James Rada, Jr.

Lois Olsen (pictured right) of Thurmont suspected she had a genetic time bomb inside her. Her mother needed a kidney transplant in 1989 because of a genetic condition called Polycystic Kidney Disease, and as Olsen neared fifty, she wondered if the disease would present itself in her.

Age fifty came and went without incident. It was years later that she began to lose weight unexpectedly and was diagnosed with the same disease as her mother.

Polycystic Kidney Disease causes many cysts to grow in your kidneys. As the cysts grow, they can enlarge the kidneys and cause them to lose function. It can cause high blood pressure and kidney failure.

Olsen started receiving dialysis treatment each night. Luckily, it was a process that could be done while she slept because it took nine hours. The dialysis helped, and she made sure to eat a lot of protein, which was also recommended.

What she needed was a kidney to replace one of her failing kidneys. Olsen’s name was put on the waiting list. Her husband enrolled in a “pair share” program. He essentially offered one of his healthy kidneys in exchange for a compatible kidney for his wife. He hoped that she would receive a suitable donation quicker. On June 4, 2018, Olsen was told she was number 4 on the donor list at Georgetown Hospital, and she was asked to drive down to have more blood tests done.

The very next morning she received a call from the hospital at 7:30 a.m. telling her that she needed to come to the hospital because they had a perfect match for her kidney. The news came as a surprise, but they headed back to Georgetown.

Olsen received her new kidney on June 5, 2018. Her recovery went smoothly, although she still has to be careful about her health. She will also have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life. It’s a trade she gladly made to not have to be on dialysis every night.

She was able to resume her work at New Midway Elementary School as the Media Specialist this month.

What Olsen wants people to know is how important it is to be an organ donor. So many parts of the body can be donated to help improve or save another person’s life. Some things like blood, skin, and kidneys can be given as a live donor. Others can be donated upon your death.

“I think a lot about the family that lost a loved one while we’re so happy,” Olsen said.

To make sure doctors act quickly to preserve your organs in the case of your death, make sure you register as an organ donor. This can be done when you renew your driver’s license, or you can register anytime at organdonor.gov.

You can give the gift of life to someone like Lois Olsen.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

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