Honoring a life lost by saving another: organ recipient meets donor family

WEST MICHIGAN -- Every year, hundreds of people are on the waiting list for organ transplants. Brenda Barr was one of those people until she received a life-saving kidney transplant two years ago. On Saturday, she met the family of the man whose kidney she received.

Brenda suffered from a genetic kidney disease and was on dialysis until she got the phone call that would change her life.

“I jumped in the car," she said. "I drove myself from Holland to Grand Rapids, crying most of the way.”

While it was a second chance at life for Brenda, it was a time of loss and grief for the family of Mike Musserman. Michelle Musserman lost her husband and the father to her kids, but by donating his kidneys, he would go on to save Brenda's life.

On Saturday, Brenda and Michelle met for the first time.

“I’m so thankful I didn’t back out letting them have his organs," said Michelle. "Mike, I know he is looking down at us. I know he’s happy with the choice we made for him, like said, he always wanted to help others."

Brenda not only met Michelle, but she also met Michael's children and parents.

“I feel even closer to my gift now," Brenda said. "I appreciate it as much now as I did then. But there is closure, there is a personal touch to the story and knowing what kind of guy Mike was makes me even more grateful."

Michelle said both of her husband's kidneys were donated. One was given to Brenda and the other went to another woman. She she hopes to meet that recipient one day as well.

Brenda was one of five patients that received a kidney transplant during a 20 hour span at Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center in January 2016, which set a record for the facility.

 

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