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'Beyond words,' Kansas City woman donates kidney to stranger

Lindsey Jarrett Kidney donation
Posted at 6:44 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 07:44:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Lindsey Jarrett saw a friend of a friend’s Facebook post asking for a kidney donor for his father, she reached out to help.

More than a year later, she donated her kidney to Dr. Pete Poovendran, a stranger with whom she now shares a lifelong bond.

“I have a really close-knit family. We’re a small network of loved ones, so they had a lot of questions,” Jarrett said. “Most people have that fundamental question of why — 'why would you do that for another person that you don’t know?'"

Jarrett says she had already wanted to be a living donor for a longtime friend who passed away from cancer.

“I just felt like if the opportunity ever presented itself again, I would have an open heart, and it did,” she said.

The opportunity arrived when Poovendran, a retired anesthesiologist who lives in Indiana, was in need after spending decades dealing with a kidney condition.

“My kidney was almost shut down,” he said.

Poovendran said he was hesitant to get his hopes up when he heard Jarrett, a woman living in Kansas City, wanted to donate her kidney to him. He previously had several other willing donors fall through for one reason or another.

“There is one last hope that’s remaining. We didn’t know what that response was going to be 'til the last day,” he said.

After Jarrett went through screening, testing and travel, all during a pandemic, that day came.

“I really felt like I was giving my body to something bigger,” Jarrett said.

After a successful surgery for both, Jarret and Poovendran got a chance to meet for the first time in the hospital.

“The nurse came and asked me. I said absolutely, and then I saw her and the first thing I did was to cry,” Poovendran said. “I still get emotional when I think about it six months later, or five months later.”

“We held hands. We actually didn’t say much to each other,” Jarrett said. “I said, ‘I’m so happy that I could give you more life for you to be with your loved ones.'"

Jarrett worked with IU Health University Hospital in Indiana to donate her kidney to Poovendran.

“My gratitude is beyond words,” Poovendran said.

Midwest Transplant Network services all of Kansas and a large part of Missouri.

In 2021, they report 981 organs were transplanted from 373 organ donors. Tissue donors in the area provided more than 184,000 tissues for transplant. The organization works with area transplant centers and mostly works with donations from deceased donors.

More information on how to join a donor registry or become a living donor is available on their website.