445th AMDS Airman saves life through organ donation

  • Published
  • By Capt. Wilson Wise
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Melissa Sherman of the 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron has been a member of the 445th Airlift Wing since December 2012. A few years ago, she received news that her father was in need of a new kidney and she volunteered to donate one.


After medical testing, it became apparent that she nor her siblings were an appropriate blood match to be able to help her father. Through a program at Banner-University Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, Sherman learned of a “paired kidney donation” program.


The program allows for willing kidney donors to team up with other donors to create a successful match and increase the chance that the kidney will function better and last longer.


After medical testing and pre-surgery counseling in March 2019, Sherman was notified of a donor match and travelled to Phoenix with her father in July. She was nervous about the surgery but had peace in knowing that with a positive outcome, she could help another family. “It is an honor to be able to help another person live a healthier life,” Sherman said.


Once the surgery was completed, Sherman’s kidney was transferred to another woman allowing for a quality of life and health previously unavailable. The recipient was able to transition to a life free of dialysis. Afterwards, Sherman’s father received a kidney from the father of the kidney recipient. “It was ‘father to father’ and ‘daughter to daughter’ donation,” Sherman remembers.


The surgery did not slow Sherman down. Immediately afterward, she worked both July unit training assemblies.


“There was some pain for a day or two after the surgery, but all in all, it wasn’t too bad,” Sherman said. “It is my honor to serve others.”


In her civilian life, Sherman is a proud wife and mother and works as a human resources coordinator for Five Rivers Metroparks in Dayton. Sherman has a new perspective on life since her kidney donation and has a greater understanding of what truly matters. “I have become more laid back since the surgery. I have come to realize that there are many things in life that are more important than trivial problems,” she said.


Lt. Col. Todd Everett, 445th AMDS chief, health services administration, said, “Staff Sergeant Sherman is a wonderful leader in the unit. Her selflessness on and off the job embodies the key Air Force value of “Service Before Self.” We can all learn to sacrifice a little more to help others.”


According to the National Kidney Foundation website, many people who need transplants of organs and tissues cannot get them because of a shortage of donations. Of the 123,000 Americans currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant, more than 101,000 need a kidney, but only 17,000 people receive one each year. Every day 12 people die waiting for a kidney. Organ and tissue donation helps others by giving them a second chance at life.


Living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ or part of an organ to someone in need of a transplant. The donor is most often a close family member, such as a parent, child, brother or sister. A donor can also be a more distant family member, spouse, friend or co-worker. Non-directed donors, those who donate anonymously, are also becoming more common. To learn more about living kidney donation visit www.kidney.org.