Sisters from northern Iowa celebrate National Donate Life Month

Celebrating organ donors

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Sisters Becky Reimers and Marianne Nielsen are no strangers to the Floyd County Medical Center, being a sonographer and an infusion nurse respectively.

Nielsen was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease in 2005, and was added to the waiting list in hopes of receiving a transplanted kidney. “When I went up to Mayo [Clinic] for my first visits up there, I was told it would be about a five-year waiting list.”

Her sister Becky volunteered to donate her kidney, in hopes it would be a match. “It was always in the back of my mind that if I didn’t get the disease, that I would be open to donating on behalf of someone. Just happened to be that it was my sister.”

Although Becky was not a match for Marianne, she was able to donate to someone else. Because Becky donated a kidney, her sister Marianne jumped up the waiting list—which paid when another donor matched with Marianne.

Although it wasn’t her sister’s kidney, Marianne still credits Becky for stepping up to help save her life. “It truly is a gift of life. I have three sons that I have had the opportunity for four more years to be involved in all sorts of activities, spending time with my family, my sister, my other sisters. If it wasn’t for Becky, a lot of those things would have been limited.”

She added that she likely would have needed dialysis treatment, which would have limited activities with her kids.

Her new kidney is far from perfect; she has had some complications at times, and will likely need another kidney in the future. But for now though, she is holding her own.

With it being the beginning of National Donate Life Month, Floyd County Medical Center and so many hospitals all across the country are hoping for more stories like this one.

For National Donate Life Month, they were honored Monday morning with a Donate Life flag that was raised outside.

In addition, there is also a tree inside the lobby where ribbons can be added to honor those who have had an organ transplant or have donated an organ to be transplanted.

The flag outside and the tree will be up until the end of April. The Charles City Water Tower will also be lit up in green from April 6 to 12, reminding the community to register as organ donors.