Mercy Fort Smith Co-worker Part of ‘Living Donor’ Chain

April 8, 2024

Mercy’s Aryan Nash and her husband, Terry, have a special story to tell, one that involves working with strangers to help save Terry’s life.

Terry and Aryan, patient experience specialist at Mercy Fort Smith, joined a living donor chain in 2018 as a way for Terry to receive a new kidney. In 2014, Terry, began to experience kidney failure. He was born with bad kidneys and had already had a transplant in 2002. That kidney was starting to lose its function.

“We looked at our options and decided to move to Texas because that is where his first transplant was performed and there were multiple transplant facilities,” she said. “He initially didn’t want any family members or me to be tested for possible donors, so we started the wait for a cadaver donor. After talking it over, he decided that he would be OK with me testing to see if I could donate to him because we were hoping to have a child later down the road if he was in better health.”

Everything looked like it would be possible for Aryan to donate until they looked at Terry’s antibodies. Because of his previous transplant and blood transfusion, Terry’s antibodies would have caused a rejection of Aryan’s kidney. That meant their best option would be to join a living donor chain. A donor chain can begin with a person who wants to donate on behalf of a family member or friend but isn’t a match for them. That person can donate to a strange who is a match, while the original recipient receives a kidney from a compatible donor who is a match for them. 

Mercy doctor's coat Aryan Nash took part in a "living donor" chain in 2018 to help husband Terry obtain a kidney.

“At that point, I decided since I was in good health and didn’t have any history in my family of issues, I wanted to be a living donor for him,” Aryan said. “It was funny because they have a completely separate team for the donors, and they basically try really hard to convince you that you might not want to do this. They did this to make sure you really understood all the possible outcomes of donating on behalf of a loved one. I wanted to do this because I wanted the best possible outcome for my husband.”

Aryan said she had no hesitations when it came to the procedure.

“When I was in grade school, my choir teacher had taken time off and donated a kidney and I remember thinking, ‘That’s pretty cool,’” Aryan said.

 “I guess years down the road that just kind of stuck with me – I know somebody who donated before and they’re doing great. She went on to run a marathon afterward.”

The chain that Aryan and Terry were part of began when a stranger wanted to donate a kidney but didn’t have anyone to donate to. Eventually, that stranger helped create the eight-person chain (four living donors and four recipients) that included Aryan and Terry.

“Kidneys were swapped from Fort Worth, Texas, to New Jersey, Atlanta, and back to Texas where I was able to give my kidney to a lady at our center,” Aryan said. “Because I was able to be a living donor for my husband, I was able to not only help him, but I was able to help someone’s wife and mother.”

Aryan calls the experience one of the most fulfilling of her life. She said both she and Terry are in great health today, and they now have a 3-year-old son.

“My husband is doing better than he ever, and because he was able to get his life extended, we were able to have our little boy, our happy little boy,” she said.