Jason Thomas didn’t talk much at work about his need for a kidney. But, when one co-worker learned that he needed a donor, she went through the testing process and learned she was a match.
By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, email@example.com
At a recent kidney walk in downtown Indianapolis, Jason Thomas was all smiles. He posed with his IU Health nephrologist Dr. Asif Sharfuddin – both showing the bright orange signature color for kidney disease.
Thomas, 46, discovered he had kidney disease about nine years ago. He and his wife Jannette, married 15 years ago and they were living in Pennsylvania at the time of his diagnosis. They knew they wanted to move to Indiana but waited until their son was finished with high school. Two years ago they moved to Plainfield, and the timing was right. In addition to a son, Sammy Quinones, 25, they have a daughter, Kira Thomas, 11.
As he was going into kidney failure, Thomas was listed for a transplant.
“I did whatever I could to get the word out – Facebook, flyers, telling friends,” said Thomas. But one of his co-workers at the time said she worked in the same building with Thomas at GEODIS, a supply chain operation, and had no idea of his need.
“We were getting ready for a manager meeting and a coworker showed me Jason’s Facebook page. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know,” said Becky McGinty, 39. “I wrote and told him I was a little mad that he didn’t tell anyone at work. I always wanted to donate a kidney and was actually approved four years earlier for someone else but she ended up not needing it,” she said.
With O positive blood type, McGinty knew her chances were good of being a match for Thomas. When she learned that she was a fit, she planned a surprise party with friends, family, and coworkers.
Thomas reluctantly showed up at a local restaurant and was greeted with a cake that spelled it out: “It’s a match.”
According to organdonor.gov, there are more than 90,000 people awaiting kidney transplant in the United States. Living organ donors do not need to be a relative of the recipient to be a match.
Thomas received his transplant on Oct. 23, 2020. Because of COVID restrictions, he was not able to see McGinty after surgery but they communicated via FaceTime. They later celebrated with a post-surgery meal.
“I’m glad I did it but I would say that I wish I’d been in better shape. It made recovery a little tougher,” said McGinty.
Thomas said it was amazing how different he felt after surgery. “I felt like someone put fresh batteries in me. Six months after surgery I ran a 5K,” he said. As a way to help educate others about kidney disease and the need for organ donation, Thomas became a board member of the National Kidney Foundation. He speaks publicly about the cause.