Kristin Harris speaking at the April 3, 2012 Donate Life Month tree planting event.
Sherry and Mike Whisler
In 2011, Sherry and Mike Whisler decided to each give a generous gift: the gift of life.
Sherry Whisler and Kristin Harris
Sherry and Kristin, both from Ankeny, have known each other for years. In 1990, Kristin received her first kidney transplant, but in 2009, that kidney began to fail. Last year, Sherry decided that she would get tested to see if she was a match.
"It was one of the best decisions I could have ever made - no regrets ever along the way," said Sherry. "The fact that our surgery was on January 11, 2011, and my kidney was no longer my own at 11:11 a.m., tells me that this is a story that needs to be shared!"
Kristin was "unbelievably elated, unbelievably thankful."
"Nothing is more important to me than my children and grandchildren, and being so confined to a machine didn't give me time to be with them," said Kristin.
"Without a doubt, the most important reason I donated was that Kristin needed to live!" said Sherry.
Mike Whisler and Jinub Boungjak
Then, Sherry's husband, Mike, decided that he, too, wanted to be a kidney donor.
"I am often asked why I donated a kidney to a complete stranger," said Mike. "I like to explain it this way: if I were to stand face-to-face with someone, and his or her very life was dependent on whether I donated a kidney, how could I refuse? What if the person was not in front of me, but lived 100 miles away? Should that really matter?"
A match was quickly found - Jinub, a husband and father of four from Marshalltown.
Jinub told the Whislers, "I know my family and your family will be the same family, it connects us. It is a hard decision to save somebody's life, and Mike saved mine."