BANGOR – According to the American Transplant Foundation, on average 20 people a day die in the US from a lack of available organs for transplant.
April is National Donate Life Month, raising awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation across the country. For one Maine resident, it’s a reminder of her own donation experience.
“A friend on social media had posted this picture, and it was an advertisement on the back of somebody’s vehicle saying, ‘need a kidney, type O blood’,” said kidney donor Lynn Bolduc. “I thought ‘I have type O blood, what’s this all about’.”
That person eventually found a donor, but Bolduc was inspired and decided to pick up the phone.
“I made the call to Bringham and Women because I didn’t know there were any other places in the state of Maine where you could donate and I started the process,” said Bolduc.
She applied to be a non-directed donor, meaning she didn’t know who would receive her kidney.
“They would select a person who was in need, and it would start a chain,” she said.
That chain lead to Ohio native Aaron Neely.
“We went through the kidney process for donating and my wife wanted to donate her kidney and well she wasn’t a match and they couldn’t use it,” said Neely.
“She still donated so that he could receive my kidney,” said Bolduc. “She donated to somebody else, and that person to somebody else and that’s how the chains start.”
The transplant happened in December of 2014. Two years later, Bolduc and Neely met in person.
“I had no idea she was in my house when she came to visit but that was big,” Neely said.
“He says he will honor the gift that I gave him, he’ll never take advantage of it,” said Bolduc.
To find out more ways to be an organ, eye or tissue donor you can visit donatelife.net.