THE GREATEST GIFT
BAKERSVILLE – When Lindsey Duncan heard her younger brother, Reggie Buchanan, needed a second kidney transplant, she wondered if she was a match.
“I knew my mom was a match, but I got curious about whether I was,” she said. “I ended up being a match and we moved forward from there.”
Reggie, 17, was born seven weeks premature. He has Down syndrome and renal kidney disease.
“When I was pregnant with him my body didn’t produce any amniotic fluid,” said Mary Buchanan, Lindsey’s and Reggie’s mother. “We knew right off his kidneys were affected.”
Amniotic fluid is a protective liquid that serves as a cushion for a growing fetus and facilitates the exchange of nutrients, water and biochemical products between the mother and fetus. As a result, Reggie was born with underdeveloped kidneys that worked fine until he was 3 years old, at which time they began to gradually decline. Reggie went on dialysis until he was 5 then received a kidney from an organ donor. He went back on dialysis a year ago when his donated kidney began failing.
Lindsey, 26, said she has always been close to her little brother.
“I grew up fast to help take care of him,” she said. “He is as much my child as he is my little brother.”
It was Monday, Dec. 11, when Lindsey had her first major surgery at Duke Hospital to donate a kidney to Reggie – almost a year to the day since the process began.
“It was all her decision,” Mary said. “She just loves her little brother.”
Doctors removed Reggie’s failing kidney and replaced it with Lindsey’s. She is “a little sore” from the surgery, but said the result makes the pain worth it.
“It feels good to do what I did,” she said. “Doctors told me my scar would basically disappear eventually, but I was hoping it would stay to remind me of what my first major surgery was.”
Reggie’s recovery is ahead of schedule, Mary said. His doctors are surprised at how fast he is healing and are thinking about discharging him from the hospital soon. Mary and Reggie will have to stay in Durham even after he is discharged because of doctor’s appointments.
“There’s still a chance his body could reject the kidney, but we’re praying that doesn’t happen,” Mary said. “He is better than he’s been in a long time and he has his wonderful sister and my wonderful daughter to thank for it.”