Penn Township woman's 'son' steps up to donate kidney

TribLive | Tom McGee

Lillian DeDomenic | for Trib Total Media Allison Harkins, kidney transplant recipient, with Dan Richardson, donor, talk about their experience in the Harkins home in Penn Township on Thursday, September 29.

Soon after Allison Harkins was told she needed a kidney transplant, all of her blood relatives were ruled out as donors.

But a man who calls her ‘Mom' was glad to give up one of his kidneys to save her.

Harkins, 51, has lived with kidney problems for 28 years. After a routine physical at the age of 23 indicated she had high blood pressure, the Penn Township woman learned she had “horseshoe kidneys,” a condition in which kidneys have fused together and form a horseshoe shape.

After giving birth to her daughter, Courtney, now 22, Harkins learned she had a type of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which is a leading cause of kidney failure.

Over the years, her kidney health declined. In February, she was forced to begin dialysis.

Her doctors told her it likely would be several years before an organ would be available for donation.

Harkins already had been on the transplant list for two years, but after beginning dialysis, she became a higher priority for donation.

On one hand, that was good — her odds of receiving an organ were better. But on the other hand, her odds of survival without a new kidney were worsening. Continue reading