How to Save a Life: Becoming a donor

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--Our story on a Grandville man's search for a kidney donor has gotten a lot of attention.

We’ve had dozens of comments, messages and emails, all from people asking how to go about becoming a living donor. We got some answers from mercy health.

It's an act of kindness that helps save lives...more than 300 people are currently on the kidney donor waiting list at mercy health, with half of it's donations coming from living donors.

Becoming one can help decrease that list...but Mercy Health says the process takes more than a willingness to donate.

"My phone rings everyday all the time," says Andrea Beck-Lundskow, LMSW, Mercy Health Living Donor Advocate.

Andrea Beck-Lundskow from Mercy Health answers the calls each day from people wanting to become a living donor.. but many of them don’t know just how demanding it can be.

"So the process to be evaluated to get approved to donate, there are a lot of steps to it. So it can feel complicated," says Beck-Lundskow.

But, she says, with staff support, becoming a living donor can be a rewarding journey, starting with an average three month evaluation period.

"It can be a lot shorter, it can be a lot longer it depends on a lot of things. It's a lot of time and effort to go through that process. So it's always amazing to me that people choose to go through that process," says Beck-Lundskow.

There is a long list of criteria to check off including whether or not you're diabetic or have had previous kidney problems, and there are a few qualifications like weight and smoking that could be discussed further.

"There are lots of criteria that you have to meet to be a living donor..there kind of general criteria so sometimes there are things we can work around,"

But Andrea says with a little dedication and time almost anyone can help save a life.

"So, it's always amazing to me that people choose to go through this process and donate just because it's the right thing to do...So my job is really cool," says Beck-Lundskow.

While being a living donor is a popular option you can also have your organs donated when you pass away by electing to become a donor when applying for or renewing your driver's license or by contacting the gift of life. To find out more about becoming a living donor, you can contact Mercy Health at https://www.mercyhealth.com/medical-services/kidney-transplants/living-kidney-donors.

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