A Volcanic Mission

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Pacific professor makes it his goal to spread knowledge and inspiration about kidney donation

Everyday, 13 people die waiting for a kidney. Each one part of the 97,000 people that sit on the kidney donation waitlist; a list that grows by 3,000 every month. 

There are three types of living kidney donors. A directed donor, a paired donor, and a non-directed donor. A directed donor is when a donor names a specific person to receive their kidney. A paired donor scenario arises when a living kidney donor, desiring to contribute a kidney, discovers that their kidney is not compatible with the intended recipient. In this situation, a unique two-part process involving two separate living donors is required to facilitate a successful kidney exchange. Lastly, a non-directed donor is when a person donates their kidney to an unnamed and unknown recipient.

Those who need kidney transplants can also receive a deceased-donor kidney where the kidney comes from someone who has died. When receiving a deceased-donor kidney, there is a 94.88 percent success rate, and when receiving a kidney from a living donor there is a 98.11 percent success rate. According to the American Kidney Fund, Living donor transplants last 15 to 20 years on average, compared to 10 to 15 years on average for deceased donor transplants. Receiving a kidney from a living donor also allows that kidney to function immediately, because it was only out of the body for a short time. When receiving from a deceased donor, there is a chance that the patient may require dialysis until the kidney starts to function.When it comes to your health, those small margins of error truly can be life or death—and this is where professor Dan Riordan found himself. 

Riordan is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education. He is active, healthy, and loved by his students. “The moment you meet Dan, you know he cares about you as a person,” remarked one of his students. “He is one of those people that will always be cheering for you. I’ve learned a lot from his classes, but also just from his passion for people and making the world better.” 

But what is not evident is that, by choice, Riordan only has one kidney. He gave the other to his father, who was suffering from kidney disease, and whose need became acute. For Riordan’s father, he had five kids to rely upon; but three were unable to donate for various reasons, though Dan seemed like the ideal candidate. 

Dan never hesitated, and two days after Christmas 2018, Riordan underwent the surgery, and became a direct-donor to his father. 

After the surgery, Riordan had a three month recovery period. He now has one kidney, with a functionality of about 70 percent, while his dad came out of the process with three kidneys. 

Riordan lives his everyday life normally. In fact, he might even be more active than the average person. After his donation, he had posted a picture to social media to talk about his story. From there, he was connected with a group of strangers from across the country who had also been donors, a group called the “Kidney Donor Athletes.” Their objective is to demonstrate that life continues after you donate your kidney, and this December, they are set to do the “3 Volcanoes Challenge” in Guatemala, with the goal of summiting volcanoes at 8428, 11,598 and 13,405 feet. 

A videographer will join them, in hopes to make a film that will be picked up by a production company. They want the message to be clear: You can donate your kidney and live life with a new purpose afterwards. 

   “My hope is that through participating in this hike I will inspire others to consider being a living donor,” says Riordan. “I am grateful I was able to help my dad by donating one of my kidneys, but I also know there are so many people waiting for life-changing transplants. This hike will hopefully bring awareness for the need for living donations, while also celebrating the active, healthy lives kidney donors can continue to lead post surgery.” 

If you would like to consider donating or getting involved, Kidney Donor Athletes can be contacted via their website, kidneydonorathlete.org. — Avari Schumacher



Avari Schumacher
Editor-in-Chief & Writer

Major: Sports Communications

Hometown: Stayton, OR

Hobbies: Watching baseball, thrifting, skincare, hanging out with my pets, snowboarding, and going on walks.

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