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Diamond Bluff sister gives her brother the gift of life

Natalie Dosdall of Diamond Bluff said donating an organ is the greatest gift anyone can give. On Feb. 7 Natalie was able to donate one of her kidneys to her brother, Mark Dosdall, also of Diamond Bluff. Submitted photo

A Diamond Bluff brother and sister will be forever linked together as the sister decided to donate her kidney to her brother.

On Feb. 7, Natalie Dosdall donated a kidney to her brother, Mark Dosdall, who was in need of a kidney transplant due to IgA Nephropathy (or Berger's disease). She said her brother was diagnosed with the disease as a child and they knew that he would probably some day need a transplant. According to mayoclinic.org, Berger's disease "is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) lodges in your kidneys. This results in local inflammation that, over time, may hamper your kidneys' ability to filter wastes from your blood."

"This past fall, shortly after [Mark's] 37th birthday, it was decided that the search for a donor needed to begin," Natalie said. "If he waited much longer dialysis would be needed to keep him alive."

The decision to sign up as a living donor was easy for her. She said while she was scared and nervous about the possible surgery, she knew she wanted to help her brother.

"When asked if I would be willing to be tested to be a living kidney donor for him I was all for it," Natalie said. "I couldn't not help my brother if I was physically able to."

While Natalie said she didn't know a lot about being a living donor, she did have some first hand knowledge that people with one kidney can live "normal" lives.

"In 2000, [my mom] donated one of her kidneys to my father and she hasn't had any complications or issues having one kidney," Natalie said. "That was also one of the reasons I didn't hesitate to get tested to see if I could be a donor for my brother."

The process for Natalie to become a living donor began by registering at www.umnhealthlivingdonor.org. She received paperwork from the University of Minnesota that included lab requests for blood pressure, blood type, glucose and a few other items. She said she had the lab work done and sent the results back to the U of M, after which she had to make an appointment at the U of M for the final phase of testing.

"At the final appointment I had a ton more in-depth blood and urine labs done to verify I was healthy enough to donate, way too many to list," Natalie said. "They also did an EKG, chest X-ray and took a tissue sample by swabbing the inside of my mouth."

During this final appointment, Natalie said members of the transplant team took time to meet with her and explain the process and answered all her questions.

"A week after the appointment I was informed that I was approved to be a living donor, meaning I was healthy enough to donate," Natalie said. "Two weeks later the tissue match results came in and we found out that I was a match for my brother and we scheduled a surgery date for Feb. 7, 2018."

The entire process to become a donor took about two months. Her surgery was on a Wednesday and by Friday she was released from the hospital. She said the biggest restriction for her is that she can't lift anything more than 10 pounds for 8-12 weeks.

"After I was released from the hospital I've needed help doing some things and my boyfriend has been helping me with all of the things I am unable to do myself," Natalie said. "There is of course pain and soreness from the surgery, but I'm feeling a little bit better with each passing day."

Natalie said the doctors are still monitoring Mark closely to make sure everything continues to function as it should.

"My brother and his new kidney are doing well," Natalie said. "It has only been a couple of weeks since the transplant so the doctors are checking and watching his lab numbers very closely and making adjustments to his anti-rejection medications as needed to keep them where they need to be."

Since the surgery was so recent, Natalie said her brother hasn't been able to see the full impact the new kidney has had.

"Physically he hasn't been able to feel a difference yet with his new kidney since he is still in the early stages of recovery," Natalie said. "He is still experiencing a significant amount of pain and soreness from surgery, so it has been hard for him to tell how good he is really feeling."

Natalie is happy that she was able to do this for her brother and is looking forward to him enjoying life.

"The best thing about donating my kidney is knowing how much it can help my brother live his life," Natalie said. "Without a new kidney his life would have gotten much harder and his health would have continued to deteriorate."

The feeling of helping her brother and making such an impact on his life, Natalie said, was huge. She recommends anyone who is able to donate an organ to do so.

"I would certainly recommend other people to be a living donor if they feel it is right for them," Natalie said. "There are definitely a lot of things to consider and the U of M and other transplant facilities have tons of resources available to help educate potential donors to help them make a decision about donation."

In addition to being a living donor, Natalie also encouraged others to choose to be an organ donor upon their death.

"If becoming a living donor isn't something that is right for you, I would strongly recommend registering to be a deceased organ donor," Natalie said. "Either way can make a life-changing difference for many people. Donating an organ or organs doesn't just affect the recipient, it is life-changing gift for the recipient, their family and their friends. There is no bigger gift that can be given."

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