Local woman’s fight to save mother’s life may also change law

WGN | Patrick Elwood

A Plainfield woman will soon fly out west to donate a kidney to her birth mother.

But her life-saving act of courage is just half the story.

She also worked to see the state's living organ donor act will soon apply in Cook and every county in Illinois.

Karen Wardlaw is a Cook County juvenile probation officer. On October 19th she will be at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego donating a kidney to Joanne Lore-Becky, her birth mother.

Two surgical teams will handle to operations; One for her and one for Joanne. Recovery time could be lengthy, anywhere between 3 to 6 weeks.

Illinois state law has provided for 30 days paid sick leave as part of the Living Organ Donor Act for public employees. It has been in place for almost 15 years and it’s a law that Secretary of State Jesse White helped champion after a stranger donated a kidney to his sister years ago and saved her life.

But when Karen asked her boss at the juvenile detention center for paid time off as part of the Living Donor Act for surgery she was told no and “your request is unprecedented at juvenile detention and perhaps county wide". Continue reading