Help Brenda Howland Find A Matching Kidney Donor


Brenda's Background:

1.)  What is your age? - I am 55 years old

2.)  Do you have children or grandchildren? - I have two sons, Ben 35 yrs. old, and Bill 32 yrs. old. 3 grandchildren Niecko 16 yrs. Zocial 10 yrs., and Silas 3 yrs.

3.) How long have you been married? - On Valentine’s day, Bob and I will be together 36 yrs.

4.)  Are you on Dialysis Currently? - I have been on dialysis for two years

5.) What type of Dialysis do you currently conduct? - I currently do home hemodialysis, I use to do dialysis 5 days a week, but now I do dialysis 4 days a week for 3 hour each tx.

6.)  What emotional toll has Kidney Failure had on you? - Emotionally I have been very depressed. I feel my life is nothing but my disease process. My dialysis is only 3 hours, but between set-up and dialyzing it takes up a good portion of my day. I’m so fatigued that is difficult to complete tasks.

7.) If you could talk to someone who is interested in donating to you, what would you say? - Thank you, for giving me back my life, and for being such a kind person.

8.)  What is your blood type? - O+ with antibodies, My siblings, my husband, my sons, and large portion of cousins are not a match.

9.) Where are you listed (name of Transplant Center)? - UW of Madison Wisconsin Transplant center. I have been on the list for 3 years, and told might be another 5-7 years before I get a kidney.

10.)  Once you receive your Kidney, what do you plan on doing with your future? - I will be less fatigued and be able to keep up with my Grandbabies. Keep a garden, and enjoy my time that I not dialyzing.

11.) What happened that caused you to need a Kidney Transplant? - When I was 8 months pregnant with my 2nd child, they found polycystic kidney disease. I was 23 yrs. old. This is a genetic disease (which no one in my family has, Which I’m glad for. ) causes the kidneys to grow like grape clusters and die. I started seeing a nephrologist starting in my 30’s. My kidneys failed with I was 53yrs od.

12.)  Do you have a specific religion or religious affiliation? - Lutheran

13.) How has Kidney Failure/Dialysis impacted your quality of life? - Due to my fatigue it is difficult for me to get tasks done, take care of my 84 yrs. old mother, and keep up with my Grandkids. I work 3 twelve hours shift as a dialysis nurse. Then I come home and with my husband dialyze myself. My husband works 4 twelve shifts. We get very tired by the end of the week. I feel between my job, and my own dialysis, my days are nothing but dialysis. The last two year we have not had a garden due to fatigue and no time to take care of the garden. I have no interest  or enough energy in decorating my house for the holidays. I work now, but notsure how long I can work due to disease process

14.)  What is the first thing that you plan on doing after you have recovered from your Kidney Transplant Surgery? - I will enjoy the pleasure of having time. I will be able to stop after work to the store. Now I have to get home to get machine started, so we can get to bed at a decent hour. Enjoy having time for a garden. Enjoy keep up with grandkids, and be able to take care of my mother. I will be able to continue to work.

15.)  Add any other information which you think may be peculiar to you, and would be of interest to a potential donor. We believe in emphasizing the uniqueness of the individual. -  I am a 55 year old, Daughter, Wife, Mother of two sons, Grandmother of 3, I’m a dialysis nurse who’s works full-time. I have antibodies so I’m a difficult match. My sibling, sons, husband, and large portion of cousins have been tested and are not a match.

Brenda's Note:


Thank you for expressing interest and showing your support of my need for a living kidney donor. 

I am listed at UW of Madison Wisconsin Transplant Center and I would like you to know that the process of living kidney donation is safe, and if you or someone you know would like to donate, then please contact my transplant center at 608) 263-9531. Click here to learn more.

For further questions, please send me a message (below). Thanks again!


Name *

Hear From An Expert:

Video Testimonial:

Laureen Gerzack is an example of the highly specialized, complicated cases typically seen and treated at Mount Sinai. Over the years, Laureen's kidneys had been badly damaged by diabetes. It came to a point where complications caused by diabetes prevented Laureen from having life-saving dialysis. She needed a kidney transplant or she would die.

Written Testimonial From, Patricia Comito -  Living Kidney Donor:

"Ok, here's my story. Feel free to share. My sister died of breast cancer. There was nothing anyone could do to help her. It was a blow to my life and my heart. I decided that I would never sit and watch another person die if I could help it. 4 years later, my friend had to make a choice of dialysis or death. I said no, I would donate. The donor only needs to notify a nephrologist (kidney specialist) that they want to donate, and the testing begins. Blood tests, ultrasounds, even a psychological exam. Not everyone passes these tests. It could be something as simple as gestational diabetes, or melanoma, that will keep you from being a donor. 

Once you are cleared the search begins. They match genetics, etc... (Very complicated) blood tests continue on a quarterly basis. If you have a cold, your situation could change and you will need to be cleared again. So, after 6 very long months, my recipient was found. Then the friend of mine had to be matched. A recipient for me was found and then got very sick so he was dropped down the list. 2 months later another recipient was found. Surgery was scheduled. My friend received his kidney and 5 days later I went through surgery. My kidney went to someone in Las Vegas. The surgery is done through a scope so there is only one bigger scar and 3 small holes. The bigger scar is below the navel and is where they bring the kidney through. They always take the Left kidney because it has a longer tube. 

Recovery was not so bad, although very uncomfortable for about 4 days. I was back at work within a month. Today I am 6 1/2 years since surgery. My body cannot even tell I had surgery and I'm as healthy as ever. The only thing that is different is that my creatinine is a little high. It always will be but the one kidney that I have has grown in size to help take over for the one gone. I cannot take ibuprofen unless I absolutely have to, otherwise, everything is great. To be called a hero, or an "exceptional human being" is really nice, but really I'm just another person that was willing to help someone in need. My recipient is still going like crazy. Was told by his doctor (Dr. Veale) he would never die from his kidney. They had a perfect match. 

Every once in a while I look at my scar and question myself if I could would I do it again.....and my answer is always yes. That's the biggest thing, you have to have a positive attitude. A wanting to help. And never a moment of questioning. Not everyone can do it. But it's soooo easy, everyone should! And.....Dr. Veale is fantastic, so is the team at UCLA."

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who can be a donor?

To qualify as a living donor, an individual must be in good health, free from any serious medical problems and between the ages of 21 and 60.

What are the risks involved?

Donating a kidney does not have any long-term effect on health. Donors may experience a slight rise in blood pressure and a small amount of excess protein in the urine following surgery. There is no greater risk of developing kidney failure after donating at kidney than anyone in the general population.

Are there activities that I will not be able to do in the future if I choose to donate a kidney?

In general, donating a kidney does not have any long-term effect on health. Some restrictions do apply following donor surgery, including reducing or eliminating the use of NSAIDS and avoiding any activity that may cause injury to the surgical area.

Does the evaluation process have to be completed at Penn?

The entire evaluation process is completed at Penn; however, if the prospective donor lives at a distance, arrangements can be made for some of the initial screening to be done at the donor's location.

Who makes the final decision on potential donors?

Based on the evaluation results, the Transplant team (comprised of nephrologists, nurses, social workers, dieticians and other transplant specialists) decides whether or not to proceed with a living donor kidney transplant as the best therapeutic option.

Who pays for the donor's medical expenses?

The recipient's insurance covers all of the donor's evaluation and hospitalization costs; however, it does not cover lost income, transportation costs or personal expenses. The transplant financial advisor reviews the potential donor/recipient procedures and associated costs carefully prior to the evaluation.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Most donors remain in the hospital for two to three days.

What is the recovery process like?

Most kidney donors resume normal activities four to six weeks after surgery. Donors are not able to drive for three to four weeks after discharge and are not permitted to lift heavy objects. You may need assistance with daily living activities during this time.

How long will I be out of work?

Depending on the nature of the work, donors typically return to work between 10 days and two weeks.

What happens if I decide not to become a living liver donor?

At any point, for any reason, the evaluation process can be stopped. The recipient will remain active on the transplant list and is free to find another potential living donor.

Shocking Stats:

Chief Medical Officer (United Network for Organ Sharing) Dr. David Klassen (Nephrologist) said in a Huffington Post article, "I’ve also witnessed the results of the severe organ shortage in this country. Too often I’ve lost patients because the organ they needed did not come in time. Too many lives cut short. Too many dreams unlived." The following are a few very sobering stats which Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients should share as well as their loved ones:

90,000 - The number of Dialysis patients that die every year according to Renal and Urology News. 

121,076 - The number of people currently waiting for a lifesaving organ in the United States, as reported by the United Network for Organ Sharing. 

100,269 - The number of patients awaiting a Kidney Transplant specifically. This suggests that approximately 80.9% of the entire organ transplant waiting list is made of individuals in need of a kidney. It is important to note that living kidney donation is very safe and if found to be a match, a donor would undergo a rigorous health evaluation before donating to ensure good long-term health outcomes.

22 - The number of people who die every single day, waiting for a transplant.

4,500 - The number of Chronic Kidney Disease patients that die every year waiting for a kidney transplant, as noted by the Living Kidney Donor Network.

6 - The number of people added to the transplant wait list every hour, reported by Huffington Post.

0 (zero) - The number of major religions that are against their members donating an organ. All major organized religions in the United States are favorable of organ and tissue donation and most likely consider it an act of charity.

Take A Moment To Learn What A Difference You Could Make:

The Need For Living Kidney Donors

“There are about 90,000 people waiting for kidney transplants in the United States,” says Dr. Gibney. “There are about 14,000 kidney transplants a year. Each year, more people are in need of organs and get added to that list.

So that’s one of the things that makes living donation so important is that there’s a fairly limited supply of organs. If there are friends or family members who can give, that can save lives and really extend people’s lives by years and years.”


If you would like to share Brenda's story via your publication, then please send a direct message below.

Name *