IU Health University Hospital

These two friends met through unusual circumstances

Patient Stories

October 02, 2019

Two women, both needing a kidney became friends during their transplant.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, @tfender1@iuhealth.org

There’s a joke between Lahna French and Jennifer Brummett that shows the bond the two women have formed in a short time.

French likes to say she had to wait for Brummett’s transplant surgery to end before she could get her new kidney. The two women – strangers at the time – both received kidney transplants on Aug. 2, 2018.

French said she was sitting outside IU Health University Hospital waiting to go to her clinic appointment when she looked over and saw Brummett. “We introduced ourselves and then we started seeing each other during clinic two days a week. Sometimes we’d have breakfast together,” said Brummett. “It seemed so easy to talk to her. I felt like I’d known her forever,” said French.

The truth is the women live 90 minutes apart – Brummett lives in Greenwood and French lives in Parker City. Coincidentally, they both had transplant surgery minutes apart and recovered on the same hospital floor. Both had IU Health Dr. William Goggins as their transplant surgeon; French was also under the surgical care of Dr. Plamen Mihaylov.

“I like to kid her that she took so long that Dr. Goggins was finishing up with her so Dr. Mihaylov started with me,” said French, who is a retired loan officer. She has been married to her husband Larry for four years. They enjoy traveling the country in their 40-foot RV.

Brummett, who works as a Kindergarten Teaching Assistant in Perry Township Schools, has been married to her husband Rod for 32 years. They have three children Brittany Seib, Nicholas and Jacob Brummett. Her brother-in-law Phil Brummett was her kidney donor. “I was fortunate I had a long line of people being tested to be my kidney donor. I didn’t know until he was approved and he called me on the phone. He’s so humble. How do you thank someone for a gift like that,” said Brummett.

When the women first met they talked about their numbers and their recovery. Now they talk about family, gardening and anything outdoors.

“Our lives are very different and yet we have a lot in common,” said Brummett. Ten days before she discovered she was in Stage 5 renal failure she ran a mini marathon. It was through routine blood work that she learned her kidneys were failing. By the time of her surgery they were functioning at only 10 percent.

“I felt fine. I had no real symptoms, just a little more tired than usual,” said Brummett.

Like her new friend, French also had no clue her kidneys were shutting down. At the age of five she was treated for a ruptured appendix and she wonders if that may have caused kidney damage.

“I kept an eye on my blood work over the years but I never felt bad,” said French, who spent three months on dialysis before her transplant.

Since their transplants, both women say are not only thankful for their new kidneys but also their new friendship. To commemorate their year of recovery the women joined together this summer for the Indiana Donor Network Walk.

“It feels great to be so healthy that we can do something like this and it feels great to know I have two new friends,” said French. One is Brummett; the other is her new kidney that she also greets each morning with a “Hello, new kidney. How are you doing today?”

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