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Sister donates kidney to brother in time for Christmas

This is a story about a brother who has been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for the past three years and a loving, giving sister who is donating one of her kidneys on Thursday, December 9, in the name of sibling love at the Northwestern Medicine Organ Transplant Center, just in time for Christmas.

Olive Holloway is proudly donating one of her kidneys to her 47-year-old brother, Dan Holloway, who has had kidney failure for the past 15 years and has been on kidney dialysis for the past four months.

According to Holloway, her brother’s doctors called him a “walking miracle” because he has not had any symptoms of kidney disease and works every day. To look at him, you would never think he had kidney disease,” she told the Chicago Crusader.

Holloway, the mother of twin three-and-a-half-year-old boys, explained why she is donating one of her kidneys to her brother, saying, “I am donating a kidney to my brother Dan because I am the only one in our family who does not have the Polycystic disease, which came from my mother’s side of the family.”

According to physicians at Mayo Clinic, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within the kidneys causing the kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time. The cysts are noncancerous round sacs containing fluid and can vary in size, even growing very large. Having many cysts or large cysts can damage your kidneys and, in some cases, the liver as well.

Information found on the National Kidney Foundation website says approximately 600,000 people have PKD in the United States. It is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure. It is found in all races and occurs equally in men and women. It causes about 5 percent of all kidney failure, with most people not developing symptoms until they are 30 to 40 years old.

Olive Holloway said that was true in her family about it being an inherited disorder because her mother had PKD. Her brother has it and three of her siblings have been diagnosed with it, she told the Chicago Crusader.

Holloway said her mother passed away on July 13, 2018. “I know this is something she would be really proud of. She received a kidney transplant about 10 years prior to that. She was a huge supporter of living kidney donor programs.”

Asked if she is anxious about the Thursday surgery, Holloway said, “I am surprisingly calm because I feel like we’re in good hands at Northwestern. I feel it is meant to be…. I know if the situation were reversed, he (her brother) would do the same for me,” she stated.

Because there is about a six-week convalescent period, Holloway said a client set up a Meal Train account which enables people to drop off food for her family one day a week or they can have food delivered to her home.

The Holloways are receiving the life-changing kidney transplant at the Northwestern Medicine Organ Transplant Center, the largest and most successful transplant program in Illinois.

With nearly 5,000 kidney transplants already performed since the program began in 1964, including 232 kidney transplants in 2017 alone, the hospital’s goal is to deliver successful transplant options even in the most challenging cases.

The Holloways are enrolled in one of these special options called the Paired Kidney Exchange Program also known as “Kidney Swap.”

According to Dr. Michael Abecassis, chief of the division of organ transplantation at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the Paired exchange transplants are made possible when a kidney donor, who is not compatible with their intended recipient, is paired with another donor and recipient on the waitlist.

Reached at home, Dan Holloway expressed excitement about his sister donating her kidney to him. “I am excited and amazed. I am excited, amazed and calm because without her, the whole swap does not work.

DAN HOLLOWAY FAMILY1 1 scaled
THIS YEAR DAN HOLLOWAY, far left, pictured with his family, will receive a new kidney for Christmas thanks to his sister’s generosity. Dan said, “It is a pretty amazing present.”

“I feel great because I don’t feel sick even though I am. People are amazed that I am going to have a kidney transplant. I am kind of calm. I am peaceful at this moment.

“This is a Christmas present for me. It is a pretty amazing present,” said the father of two children and husband to Lisa Holloway. The two have been married for nearly 20 years.

A barber by trade and on weekends a host and emcee at social events, Dan Holloway said during the process of securing a kidney transplant there were six people who signed up to be donors.

Within those six, he said his brother found out he had kidney problems and a close friend of his wife discovered she had breast cancer. So, out of his search, other lives were also saved.

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