Local Cousin Donates Lifesaving Kidney

By Samantha R. Evensen

Angi Bourquin, a manager at Bloomingdale Medical in Riverview, has been with the practice since 1997, taking on many roles during that time. However, the greatest role she’s played thus far was on March 11, when she donated her kidney to her cousin, Tonya Berns, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Twelve years ago, Berns was diagnosed with systemic lupus, which directly affects the kidneys. She had one kidney that had a hematoma on it and was told that in the future she would need a transplant.

Bourquin at the time courageously offered her kidney to her ailing cousin and was happy to make the donation if she was a match.

The lupus then went into a prolonged remission for 10 years.

In December 2011, Tonya’s sister donated a kidney to her at the Ohio State University. Unfortunately, there were complications with the transplant and the kidney died three days later.

She had been on dialysis for nine hours a night ever since the failed transplant, only having about five percent kidney function between both kidneys.

Last year, Bourquin received a call asking if she was still willing to donate.

The Cleveland Clinic sent her a kit in order to take a blood sample. Doctors needed to not only know if she had the correct blood type, but also to see if she had three of the six matching antigens in her blood. Antigens evoke the production of antibodies. She was a match.

Bourquin also completed several other tests to see if she was healthy enough, and received physical and medical clearance for the surgery.

The transplant was successful and besides some swelling, both donor and donator were fine.

Bourquin returned to work 10 days later and was even able to return to her weekly bowling game, scoring a 233 the first day she returned.

“My biggest thing was her quality of life. A person can be on dialysis for an extended period of time, but what kind of life is that? I’m healthy and if I could give her a better quality of life that’s what I was going to do. That was my goal,” said Bourquin.

For more information on kidney transplant donation, visit http://www.kidneyregistry.org/.