Avera Medical Minute: From Strangers to Family, a paired kidney donation story

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Houston Lamm’s life, up until last year, was pretty normal.

Then one day it all changed.

“Shocking, never in a million years would I have thought 19 years old, kidney failure,” said Lamm.

That diagnosis would put him on the hunt for a new kidney to save his own life.

“I’m trying everything possible, put it on Instagram, Facebook. And the Facebook deal kind of lit up, everyone is sharing it and then I got a phone call,” said Lamm.

That phone call set a string of events in motion that will ultimately lead to Houston receiving a donated kidney.

Shirley Bingen saw Houston’s post and wanted to help. The two had never officially met.

“There was a reason I had seen his post on Facebook,” said Bingen.

Shirley’s kidney ended up being too small for Houston, but by donating it through the National Kidney Registry on Houston’s behalf, Shirley is helping put him one step closer to receiving a kidney that’s a perfect match for him.

“He’s got his whole life ahead of him he’s got to fight on,” said Bingen.

Shirley says Houston isn’t the only one inspiring her to donate.

“Our first great-grandson only lived an hour and a half and had he lived, he would have had to have a kidney at some point, so I am kind of doing it for him,” said Bingen.

It’s a gift that Houston understands the gravity of.

Without Shirley’s help, he’d be waiting a long time for a transplant.

“Someone as young as Houston, who is now 21 years old, would have waited at least 5-7 years in our region before he would get a good match for kidney transplantation since he had no living donors of his own,” said Avera transplant surgeon Dr. Sujit Sakpal.

The donation by Shirley, in Houston’s name, shortens his wait to roughly just a few months.

Houston made sure to personally thank Shirley when she woke up from surgery.

“If it was blizzardy outside, I would have still come. I don’t care. This is above and beyond for me,” he said. “I was supposed to go to Arizona but that doesn’t matter to me, I can miss anything but I won’t miss this,” said Lamm.

Houston is hoping to get his surgery in the next month or two.

April is National Donate Life Month.

It’s a time for people to celebrate the generosity of blood, tissue, and organ donors, and encourage more people to consider donating.

For more information on kidney donations, head over to Avera.org/MedicalMinute.

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