East Tenn. NICU nurse donates kidney to co-worker

(Courtesy: WATE)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A nurse at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, said she felt led to help her co-worker after she found out she was in need of a kidney.

Shauna Nelson said she didn’t know her co-worker Bonnie Estes very well because they worked different shifts. After taking a test it turns out Nelson is an almost perfect match for a kidney transplant.

The NICU nurse said the decision to donate a kidney was easier than she thought. “You know, the Lord tells us to love your neighbor, and share what you have. Bonnie is awfully easy to love and it would be a real privilege to share,” said Shauna.

On June 23, diabetes and high blood pressure sent Bonnie into kidney failure back in January, and onto the kidney transplant list. She’s been on home dialysis, and yet still comes to work to care for the tiny babies she is so passionate about.

“I was excited and nervous all at the same time, but very thankful and I just felt like it was a miracle,” said Estes. Surgery is tentatively set for Aug. 5.

Nelson said she hasn’t had any moments of uncertainy about the surgery. “I’m feeling real confident,” she said. “The people at UT have been fabulous, and really explaining everything along the way. And people here at children’s have been great about granting the time off.”

Estes said it is tough to express the kind of gratitude Bonnie has for the offer of such a gift. “Just thank you is not enough, ” she said. “I don’t know what to say-it’s a second chance for me and I love you so,” she told Shauna.

Right now in East Tennessee, 225 people are on the waiting list for a new kidney.

For more information on organ donation and becoming a living donor, contact the Center for Transplant Services at 865-305-9236.

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