Coworker’s Organ Donation Surprise Filmed at KU Health System

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The Surprise of a Lifetime was filmed recently at the University of Kansas Health System.

Alex Brown, who previously worked at FOX4, receives an amazing gift from a colleague. Brown needs a new kidney and was looking everywhere for a living donor. Turns out his match was in the next booth.

He was taking medication for a chronic digestive problem when he learned that the medication had damaged his kidneys beyond repair. At 33, he learned he would need a kidney transplant.

“That’s when they told me I needed a living kidney donor, which was a surprise at the time,” Brown recalled.

He and his family have spent more than a year looking for a match, with no clear timeline when he should turn to dialysis.

“The future has been pretty murky for a while and it’s a tough thing to live with,” Brown explained.

Potential candidates who volunteered were rejected. During her research, Brown began working full-time in the Department of Media Relations at the University of Kansas Health System. His colleague Logan Blankenship decided to get tested, without telling Brown. The tests took place over a two-day period this fall.

“I didn’t want to see that look on his face like I saw that day when he found out his friend couldn’t do it,” Blankenship explained.

Working for the hospital, Blankenship had written about transplants before, but there was one thing that even the doctors who performed them had never seen.

“We did all this fuss with living transplants and we never got that moment of surprise,” Blankenship said.

This moment when the recipient discovered that he was receiving an organ donation. So the team called a production meeting in the broadcast studio and invited Brown’s family.

“They didn’t even know because they were just told Alex was going to get this award, |” said Brown.
Then Blankenship broke the news with someone recording in the control room.

“You put yourself out there to make his big ask and I’m happy to say we have an answer to that. I’m your man of the match, I’m your match,” Blankenship exclaimed in the video.

“Dad has a kidney,” Brown’s wife, Jenna, told her daughter 5.

“Just then, being able to tell him and being there at the point of relief was so cool,” Blankenship said Tuesday of the surprise.

“I was obviously in shock when it happened. It sets in minutes later that wow someone would come up and do this for me and that’s the guy who’s sitting five feet away from me” , Brown said.

The University of Kansas Health System released the surprise during its Friday morning medical update, giving the two men a chance to talk about a gift you can never repay.

“That would be my message. If you know someone who needs a live organ and you have the ability to go get tested, make that call,” Brown said.

Doctors realistically say the pain and recovery is worse for the donor than the recipient, which will take several weeks. It’s a huge sacrifice, but you can very well live with just one kidney.

Blankenship comforted his own family by explaining that if he himself needed a transplant as a donor, he would automatically put himself at the top of the list.

The procedure is expected to take place in the spring of 2023.

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