One of Hawaii’s first living kidney donors needs someone like him ― for his wife

He was one of Hawaii's first living organ donors. Now, his wife needs a transplant of her own

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Marcia Toyama's kidneys started shutting down two years ago.

"I started to feel real lousy and I said, 'Wow. What's going on?'" she said.

Toyama isn’t diabetic or suffering from heart disease.

“I just have lousy kidneys which don’t work any more,” she said.

The Toyamas are in an ironic situation.

In 2002 Marcia’s husband, Dwight, became one of Hawaii’s first living organ donors.

If he had another kidney to give, he would.

“If I could, I’d give her the other one without hesitation,” he said.

The Toyamas have explored options with other relatives. Their need underscores a bigger issue ― the need for living donors to meet the needs of transplant patients.

"There's almost 113,000 patients waiting for organ transplants across the country, 95,000 of those are waiting for kidney transplants," said Dr. Kai Yamaguchi, kidney transplant surgeon with The Queen's Medical Center.

The National Kidney Registry shows only about 5,500 living donors on its registry as of 2014, the latest figure available.

Maile Reddy is the Living Donor Coordinator at Queen's Transplant Center. She hopes more donors step forward.

"It is a major surgery," she said. "But it is our job to make sure it is safe for them to be a living donor. We facilitate all that evaluation to make sure it's safe."

A kidney from a living donor usually leads to a better outcome for the recipient. Yamaguchi said the procedure is easier on the donor than it used to be.

“Most of the time they stay in the hospital only a couple of days. Most times they’re back to routine activity in a week or two,” he said.

To attract more donors the National Kidney Registry now offers a system whereby a donor designates up to five people to receive vouchers.

"If any of those five people ended up needing a kidney, one of them can redeem this voucher to get a kidney from a living donor from the registry," Reddy said.

The Toyamas hope their story inspires people to sign up with the registry

"I would like to see more people come forward and become donors," Dwight said.

Marcia undergoes ten-hour dialysis treatments. She doesn't expect special treatment just because her husband donated his kidney.

"I don't feel like I'm any more deserving of anybody else that's on the list," she said.

She’s far down the transplant list but hopeful one day she’ll have a match.

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