PARK CITY, Utah — Henry Evans knew he wanted to donate a kidney as soon as he watched his wife, Lisa Wilkinson, donate hers. Wilkinson was fortunate enough to be a perfect match for her aunt who was on dialysis.
After the procedure was complete, Evans noticed an immediate change in Wilkinson’s aunt.
“She was back to normal, and my wife was back to normal really quickly,” Evans said. “I thought that is something I would like to do someday if a family member ever needed it.”
Soon after, Evans was met with an opportunity to test how serious he was about donating a kidney. Evans’s adoptive cousin was diagnosed with kidney failure in Denver, Colorado, late 2020.
Evans took action and decided to test if he was a correct blood match. Unfortunately, Evans has one of the rarest blood types in the world and was not a match to his cousin.
“They told me I couldn’t donate,” he said. “I was going to donate anyway, so I called the University of Utah and told them what was going on.”
After the vetting process, Evans ended up matching for a local recipient.
“If I give it to a stranger, it is still going to help my cousin and pull people off of that recipient list,” Evans said. “That is what inspired me. Every time I go there and the more education I get, I realize […] it’s major surgery with little risk.”
Evans will go through a living non-direct kidney donation Feb. 2.
“This is a type of donation where the donor and recipient do not know each other,” The University of Utah said in a statement. “It’s sometimes called an ‘anonymous’ donation.”
A living kidney donation increases the chances that a recipient won’t die while waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor. Even though Evans is a Park City firefighter, he won’t let the nerves of living with one less kidney get to him.
“All of this is so empowering, it is like someone who is scared of flying,” he said. “Once they realize what they are doing and why they arent scared anymore.”