Michigan woman shares her miraculous transplant story

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 7:11 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An estimated 17 people die every day in the United States waiting for an organ donor transplant.

More than 104,000 people are currently on a waiting list to receive either a heart, kidney or lung. Every 10 minutes, a new person is added to the list.

“They rushed to put me on the transplant list and that was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and miraculously the next day, on Thanksgiving day, a match was found,” said Rachel Kuntzsch.

Four years ago, Kuntzch visited her doctor for what she thought was a bad cold, followed by shortness of breath.

“Turned out I was in heart failure and I was rushed to the hospital,” Kuntzch recalled. “And they didn’t initially know what the cause was, so I spent about six days in Sparrow ICU and then I was transferred to U of M. And that’s where I was diagnosed and they learned that I had a very rare condition called: giant cell myocarditis.”

More than 42,000 people in the United States received transplants in 2022.

The President of Lansing Community College, Steve Robinson, said he’s a live tissue donor and a frequent blood donor.

“I am always on a regular cycle of donating what’s called power reds, or double reds,” Robinson said. “They take two units of platelets and they return your plasma. I do that all the time.”

Gift of Life Michigan works with organ and tissue donors to save lives of people, like Kuntzch.

“Most of us won’t have an opportunity to donate because we won’t die in a way that makes donation possible,” said Dorrie Dils. “But when we do, we can be incredible heroes to those people who are desperately waiting.”

“There was no assurance that I would survive because it generally takes a good amount of time to find a match,” Kuntzch recalled.

Organ donation agencies said they need people of all ages, races and genders to sign up. More information can be found here.

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