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From organ donor and recipient to new friendship

IU Health University Hospital

From organ donor and recipient to new friendship

Two people started out as strangers and are now friends. Their common bond started with a single organ donation.

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

Their meeting is unusual. Their story is awe-inspiring.

It’s hard to say where it began but there were three people involved in the beginning. Muncie resident Jeff Schrecongost needed a kidney. He met Emily McIntire, a nurse, when he began dialysis. McIntire, also of Muncie, tested to be a kidney donor for Schrecongost, but was not a match. Next came Jane Fuqua. She didn’t know Schrecongost at the time, but she knew she wanted to donate her kidney to someone.

Fuqua, of Zionsville, became a non-directed donor. In turn, McIntire’s kidney went to a college student from Gary, Ind. The process of connecting various donors with recipients (that they do not know) is called “paired donation.”

In this case, Schrecongost, a college English teacher, was diagnosed with Type II diabetes and Stage 3 kidney disease in 2017. He was undergoing dialysis and awaiting a kidney transplant.

Fuqua first learned of the need for living donors from a presentation by the National Kidney Foundation. On June 11th, in the care of IU Health Dr. Chandru Sundaram, her kidney was donated to Schrecongost. IU Health’s Dr. William Goggins performed Schrecongost’s transplant.

But that was only the beginning of their story. Weeks later, through a zoom call, Schrecongost learned that McIntire was tested as his donor. He also met Fuqua for the first time.

It was an emotional first meeting that set the stage for a friendship and also created an opportunity for Fuqua to become an advocate for living organ donation.

“I am beginning Volume Two of my life, and it would not have been possible without Emily, Jane, my family, Dr. Goggins, and IU Health’s amazing kidney transplant team,” said Schrecongost

After their first virtual meeting, Schrecongost and his father, Jim, met Fuqua for coffee. They recently met again for dinner and were joined by Schrecongost’s brother and sister-in-law, Fuqua’s husband, Jeff, and McIntire. They joke about all the “J names” and marvel at the chance friendship.

“The first time we met in person was one of the best days of my life,” said Fuqua. “We talked and laughed for over an hour.” Schrecongost, who says he is feeling wonderful, is also grateful for their meeting. “I guess the best way to show my gratitude is to take great care of myself and live my best life,” said Schrecongost.

According to Donate Life America, about 100,000 people are awaiting a kidney transplant. To help encourage others to consider living organ donation, Fuqua recently spent a day with videographers capturing her story for a segment for a National Kidney Foundation event.

To learn more about becoming a living donor: https://www.kidney.org/transpl...

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