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No Longer Waiting: Duluth Woman Gets New Kidney

Updated: October 07, 2019 07:58 PM

Gena Drift can hardly believe she has a new kidney. "It's been sitting in me for four months. And it's still hard for me to wrap my head around, it's working so great!"

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We introduced you to Gena eight years ago, when WDIO did a story about dialysis and the people waiting for new kidneys. She had felt pretty hopeless sometimes, during the 10 years she was on the waiting list. 

But on her way to dialysis on May 31st, she got the call. "They said you're a perfect match for the kidney," Gena remembered. She rushed down to the Twin Cities to the U of MN Hospital, and the surgery took place June 1st.

One of the first things she did afterwards was eat a banana, which is forbidden when you're on dialysis. She also doesn't have to limit her fluids, and can travel without having to worry about making the dialysis appointments.

She grew up learning Native beliefs. But in May, started going to church at Jesus is Life in Duluth. "I would pray every night for a kidney," she said. One night, when she couldn't sleep, Gena said she heard someone whisper, "Pray, pray now." She ignored it, but then heard it again. So she did pray.

Two days later, she got the call about the transplant. She gets emotional thinking about the timing of it all. "I don't know if it's because of that. But you know, it gives me good reason to believe that it was."

Now, she plans on volunteering, getting back to work as a massage therapist, and hopefully providing education to young people about the need to take care of their diabetes.

She will eventually write a letter to the family of the 16-year-old donor, who had a traumatic brain injury. After all, that donation has changed her life. "It changes people's lives for the better. It's so important to become a donor," she added.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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