By Matt Getts
ALBION — A girls’ weekend trip to New York City has changed a Wawaka woman’s life.
And likely saved another’s.
Within the next two weeks, Kim Allen, 50, will be donating a kidney to a former college roommate in New York City.
“I just thought I needed to try to save her life,” Allen said from her work area at Drs. Will and Roush optometry offices in Albion. “Someone said to me, ‘I hear you’re trying to be a hero.’ I was offended by that. I don’t want it to be about me, I want it to be about her. Don’t look at me to be the hero.”
Allen’s self-less gesture has touched the staff she works with.
“I can’t express to you how proud of her we all are,” Dr. Alan Roush said.
Allen will be in the hospital for approximately three to four days after the procedure. She will then stay in the transplant living center for the next two weeks.
The procedure is being paid by the insurance of Lauren, the recipient.
Allen said she would only provide Lauren’s first name to protect her privacy.
Allen and Lauren became friends while living in co-op housing at Purdue University in 1985.
“We lived together one year,” Allen said. “We shared a room.”
The two kept in touch loosely through Facebook, but it was through a mutual friend that Allen became aware of the extent of Lauren’s medical issues.
“I realized she was in complete renal failure,” Allen said.
Then this past summer, Allen and three other co-op friends decided to go to New York City to see their former co-op friend.
“We went to New York kind of as a girls’ weekend,” Allen said.
One of the friends, who now lives in Guam, stayed an extra three days to be tested to see if she would be compatible to donate a kidney.
“She was a donor match, but she wasn’t healthy enough to donate a kidney,” Allen said. “That’s when I thought, ‘Maybe I should consider that.’”
Without Lauren’s knowledge, Allen went through the testing process to see if she was a match.
“If I’m not a match, I’ll know it’s not supposed to be,” Allen remembered thinking.
“I just thought I need to try to save her life,” she said. “It just felt like I should do it. God has led me to do that. I have felt very at ease through this whole process.”
Blood work taken at Parkview Noble Hospital was sent to New York. When it came back that she could be a donor, Allen traveled to New York City in October for two days of testing to determine if she was healthy enough to live with only one kidney.
When everything came back good, she called Lauren.
“It was the best telephone call of my life to tell her I had a Christmas present for her,” Allen said. “She was silent at the other end of the line.”
Then Lauren couldn’t believe it.
Allen said her husband, Phil, a teacher in the Churubusco school system, has been on her side.
“He’s worried,” Allen said, “(but) he’s supportive because he knows I want to do this.”
Allen and Phil have three children: Darby, a sophomore at Purdue; Tate, a senior at Churubusco and Tanner, a sophomore at Churubusco.
“They think it’s cool,” she said.
Allen said she isn’t worried about the major surgery, not after meeting the transplant team.
“I’m excited,” she said. I don’t really feel nervous. I feel confident in them, knowing they have my back.”
Active in the Topeka Methodist Church, Allen has plenty of support back home, too.
“I have a lot of circles of people praying for us, that it will work out, be successful,” she said.
Why would she go through such an ordeal for someone she isn’t all that close to?
“It’s going to save her life,” Allen said. “How could I not?”