Eastern Iowa Airport TSA officer donates kidney without knowing recipient

Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 5:56 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Jill Hopper is a TSA officer at the Eastern Iowa airport. Her journey towards becoming an anonymous organ donor started when she was scrolling through her phone.

”A social media friend posted that her mom had stage four kidney disease and was going to start looking for a kidney for a transplant. I looked into the process to see what it entailed and figured I could do that,” said Hopper.

She ended up not being a match for that person, but her journey continued.

“I took some time and just thought about it and thought about, okay I would be willing to give to my family and my friends, and where would that stop? In my mind it never would, so I was able to decide I was willing to give it to anybody,” said Hopper.

So she went through the application process, was approved, and matched with someone who she, to this day, doesn’t know. And she’s okay with that.

“I thought it was more important for the person to decide if they wanted to meet me.”

Heather Butterfield with the Iowa Donor Network says that type on anonymous organ donation - where someone openly donates an organ to anyone in need - is the rarest type of organ donation, but also one of the most needed.

“There’s about 107 thousand people waiting for a transplant right now in the United States, there’s 600 here just in Iowa, and yet we only do about 38 to 39 thousand transplants per year,” said Butterfield.

Thankfully, the number of people waiting is dropping because of more people becoming organ donors when renewing their license and anonymous donors, like Hopper.

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