‘A Divine Intervention’: Waseca woman finds kidney donor locally after 7 years on dialysis

A Waseca mother has a new lease on life after seven years of waiting for an organ donation. Now, she and the donor are sharing their story in the hope that others will consider the life-saving effort.

‘A Divine Intervention’: Waseca woman finds kidney donor locally after 7 years on dialysis

WASECA, Minn. (KEYC) — It’s easy to take our health for granted. Ask Dorothy Loonan, a healthy Waseca mother whose life turned upside down in one day.

“I was fine and life was as usual,” Loonan said. “And then I took some medication that basically killed my kidneys. I had an allergic reaction.”

She was rushed to Mayo Clinic where she immediately began therapy and treatment for kidney failure. It was the beginning of a long wait on dialysis.

“Almost seven years. Yeah, for a long time,” Loonan said. “The typical lifespan of a patient on dialysis is five years. After that it’s all downhill from there. They don’t expect much living after that.”

Loonan needed a new kidney. But because of her blood type and high level of antibodies, doctors said her chances of getting a donation was slim.

Dorothy Loonan poses for a portrait, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Waseca, Minn. Loonan received a kidney transplant in July 2020 after being on dialysis for nearly seven years. After years of uncertainty, she found a suitable donor that matches her blood type and high level of antibodies. That donor is Mike Oliver - a colleague of Loonan's husband. "It was like it was just a divine intervention," Loonan said. "Here's a 50-year-old man and a 60-some-year-old woman. Different nationalities, different cultures, but we sat down and we became one - literally. I'm just very grateful for that." 
Dorothy Loonan poses for a portrait, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Waseca, Minn. Loonan received a kidney transplant in July 2020 after being on dialysis for nearly seven years. After years of uncertainty, she found a suitable donor that matches her blood type and high level of antibodies. That donor is Mike Oliver - a colleague of Loonan's husband. "It was like it was just a divine intervention," Loonan said. "Here's a 50-year-old man and a 60-some-year-old woman. Different nationalities, different cultures, but we sat down and we became one - literally. I'm just very grateful for that."  (Source: Gage Cureton)

“And out of nowhere, my husband and I meet Mike, who said he’s willing to donate a kidney,” Loonan said. “It was like God thought it was OK to save me. He called Mike and Mike answered.”

Mike Oliver is a colleague of Dorothy’s husband, Tim Loonan.

“I asked him why he was in Mankato the day before, and he said he was here with his wife for dialysis,” Oliver said. “So I asked him a few more questions and he said she had been dialysis in excess of five years at that point. And I said ‘I would donate.’ He looked at me and kind of blew it off. Two or three months later we were in another meeting and I asked him how come I hadn’t received any info. So he then got me in contact with Mayo, and the the process started.”

Two years later, after tests and preparation to ensure both were ready, they headed to Mayo Clinic last July for surgery.

Dorothy Loonan poses for a portrait, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Waseca, Minn. Loonan received a kidney transplant in July 2020 after being on dialysis for nearly seven years.  After years of uncertainty, she found a suitable donor that matches her blood type and high level of antibodies. That donor is Mike Oliver - a colleague of Loonan's husband. "It was like it was just a divine intervention," Loonan said. "Here's a 50-year-old man and a 60-some-year-old woman. Different nationalities, different cultures, but we sat down and we became one - literally. I'm just very grateful for that." 
Dorothy Loonan poses for a portrait, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Waseca, Minn. Loonan received a kidney transplant in July 2020 after being on dialysis for nearly seven years.  After years of uncertainty, she found a suitable donor that matches her blood type and high level of antibodies. That donor is Mike Oliver - a colleague of Loonan's husband. "It was like it was just a divine intervention," Loonan said. "Here's a 50-year-old man and a 60-some-year-old woman. Different nationalities, different cultures, but we sat down and we became one - literally. I'm just very grateful for that."  (Source: Gage Cureton)

“He went to one room, I went to another room,” Loonan said. “They took the kidney out and within seconds transferred it over to the other surgical team and it was in my body. It was very seamless. The recovery process was a little longer for me. It took a good six weeks for me to start feeling normal, but the donor, on the other hand, was able to recover very quickly.”

“Everything on my side was working well, everything on her side was working well,” Oliver said. “That was on a Tuesday, I got out on Wednesday morning, on Friday afternoon, I was on a boat with friends.”

Now, life goes on for Dorothy and Mike. The Loonans are expecting their first grandchild this spring. And they still keep in contact with the Olivers. Dorothy says she’ll be grateful forever, and now, reflects on how truly special the match was.

“It was like it was just a divine intervention,” Loonan said. “Here’s a 50-year-old man and a 60-some-year-old woman. Different nationalities, different cultures, but we sat down and we became one -- literally. I’m just very grateful for that. I think it speaks volumes for the human race and the fact that we’re all compatible.”

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