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Published: Monday, June 10, 2019 @ 11:39 AM
— An 84-year-old Texas man became the oldest living kidney donor in the United States, helping a neighbor in need in his Austin neighborhood.
Frank Dewhurst was walking through his neighborhood last fall when he saw a sign in Linda Nall's front yard, appealing for an O blood type kidney, the Houston Chronicle reported. He had also seen the sign on the back window of Nall's car, the newspaper reported.
Nall, 72, had been struggling with lupus, an autoimmune disease, since 1986, and the disease began attacking her kidneys in 2001, CNN reported. Dewhurst called Nall and said he wanted to stop by for a chat. That concerned Nall, who believed that Dewhurst, a former head of the homeowners association and head of the grounds committee, was going to ask her to remove her sign.
She was surprised when he showed up.
“I’m O positive,” Dewhurst told Nall, according to the Chronicle. "I’m here to offer you my kidney.”
“I was walking in the neighborhood one day and I just said, why not me?” Dewhurst told Today.
Dewhurst wondered if his age would be a factor in donating the organ, but tests confirmed he was healthy enough. On April 30, doctors at Houston Methodist Hospital performed the transplant, the Chronicle reported. Dewhurst was discharged from the hospital May 1, and Nall was released four days later, the newspaper reported.
“The issue is health, not age,” Hassan Ibrahim, head of Methodist’s living kidney donor program, told the Chronicle. “Kidney function doesn’t decline with age in most people so seniors can be donors as long as they don’t have cardiovascular disease or cancer or other major conditions."
Dewhurst walks 10,000 steps a day and has a diet consisting of seafood and vegetables, the newspaper reported.
“I couldn’t believe it when Frank offered to give his donation,” Nall told the Chronicle. “It’s a miracle, a godsend. I can’t begin to thank him enough.”
“No big deal,” Dewhurst told the newspaper. “I’m healthy and had what she needed, a functioning kidney. She wasn’t getting any better without one.”
Nearly 200 Americans 70 and older have become living kidney donors since 1995, Ibrahim told Today. He is hoping Dewhurst's act of kindness will encourage more donations from older people. The average age of live kidney donors is 39, according to Today.
“Hopefully, this donation can help correct the misconception — as long as you’re healthy, don’t deprive yourself of the chance to save someone’s life because of your age,: Ibrahim told the Chronicle.