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Boys Town Employee Gives the Gift of Life to a Stranger in Need

Every day, Boys Town employees ​provide healing and hope to at-risk children and families. For one employee, flying half way across the country to provide healing and hope to a family she didn’t know, was an easy decision to make.

This past February, Stephanie Hausman, Child Care Specialist at Boys Town California, donated her kidney to a complete stranger. Her journey began when she viewed a video online about the vast number of people in America on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. For Stephanie, that video hit very close to home. A few years ago, Stephanie’s father donated his own kidney to her grandfather. Stephanie decided it was her turn to save someone’s life.

After calling local hospitals in Orange County, California, she found that donating to a stranger proved difficult. Frustrated, she mentioned her struggle to a friend who lived in Los Angeles. Her friend, in-turn, introduced Stephanie to his co-worker. The co-worker’s father, Bob, who lived in Chicago, was in desperate need of a kidney.

After discovering that Stephanie and Bob were a match, plans were set to make her dream a reality. Stephanie and Bob, a retired special education teacher, driver’s education teacher, and softball coach, bonded almost immediately. Their connection would grow to become like family in the coming months.

Months of blood tests, urine tests, chest x-rays, EKGs, and CT scans followed, along with a trip to Chicago to meet with the surgeon, kidney specialist, transplant coordinator, dietician, and social worker who would become Stephanie’s medical team.

The transplant took place on February 23, 2016 at the University of Chicago Hospital. Two days after surgery, Stephanie was walking around, and two weeks later, she was able to return home to California. Recovery itself has been relatively easy, and after eight weeks, Stephanie will be able to return to all of her normal activities with, as she said, “Just a few awesome scars.”

With her donation, Stephanie will experience very little effect on her body. Her remaining kidney will grow to compensate for the loss of the other one, and her chances of having kidney failure in the future increases by only a slim margin. Additionally, because of her donation, Stephanie will be put near the top of the donation list, should she ever need a new kidney one day.

“Donating my kidney has been one of the best decisions I ever made. I was able to help a man get off dialysis, which he was on 5 hours a day twice a week, so that he could spend more time with his family,” Stephanie said. “I gained a whole new family, and all it cost me was a small piece of me that I don’t even need to survive. I’ve become so close to the Mueller family, and it’s been amazing to see how one little kidney could impact so many people’s lives. If I could give my other kidney, I would in a heartbeat. Doing this has made me more aware of the impact we have on one another and that we should all really step up and help each other more.”

Stephanie and the Mueller family are still in contact almost every day, as they finish their recoveries together. She plans to visit Chicago for Christmas to celebrate life as a new extended family.