'It's Such a Gift': Providence Patient Reflects On Life After Transplant

Spokane, Wash.--Donald White, Jr.’s life hung in the balance. 

In 2011, Donald’s kidneys were failing. The Type 1 diabetes diagnosis he received as a teen was catching up to him in a painful and scary way. 

“It was such a depleted state of life that you have no energy, no drive, basically going day-by-day to get by,” Donald said.  

At the age of 32, Donald started dialysis, a process that takes over for the kidneys to remove toxins for the body. The next year, his name went on a transplant list.  

He and his wife, Brandi, were left to wait. 

And pray. 

And wait.  

“We got the phone call on August, 10 of 2016,” Donald said. “They said, ‘Hey, we need you to come down to Sacred Heart and give us a blood sample because we believe we have your organs.’” 

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center completed its first kidney transplant in 1981. Four decades later, Donald became the first patient to undergo a simultaneous kidney-pancreas transplantation at Sacred Heart Medical Center.  

“I just have to say the transplant surgeons, the transplant team, everybody up there is just amazing,” Donald said.  

The surgery went smoothly and so did Donald’s recovery. Now he’s doing things he always hoped to one day be able to do. 

“It’s an amazing journey,” Donald said. “I have energy now. It’s completely turned around from where I was to where I am now.” 

The transplant inspired Donald to pursue a new career. He’s now serving in the medical field as an operating room anesthesia tech at Providence Holy Family Hospital. He’s considering going to medical school, too.  

“I was completely inspired to be able to work in the medical field and be able to give hope to people where sometimes there is no hope,” Donald said.  

None of that would have been possible without organ donation. That’s something Donald reflects on every April, which is Donate Life Month. 

“It’s such a gift to be able to give to someone, to prolong their life, to bring new life back to their family,” Donald said. “I’m very grateful.” 

Donald doesn’t know what life would be like today had a donor kidney and pancreas not been available to him. You can give the ultimate gift of life by registering to become an organ donor. Learn more here.  

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