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More than a paper heart

Valentine’s Day can mean more than a paper heart for some people. Take for example,
one Las Vegas person who finds it extremely gratifying to offer more, and to someone he didn’t know. He made a new friend with Peggy Ponche of Wisconsin by giving her one of his kidneys.

More than a year ago, Jerry McElroy, a resident of Henderson, Las Vegas decided to peruse through a website that bridges patients and donors for organ transplants. McElroy had thought about donating one of his kidneys before, and felt it was time to take that step.

Jerry gave it some thought (over five years) before doing it. One day, he happened to walk by the television and saw a program related to live donor donations. That's what prompted him.

The kidney transplant took place in January 2009. During a phone interview with Jerry today, he shared his thoughts about his decision. “I'm blessed with many opportunities. I have a caring family and good friends, plus Greta, my dog."

Kidney donors can continue their usual lifestyle after recovery from surgery, and the kidney patient gains more years to his/her life. Another kidney donor, Thomas F. Seif, whose grandchild lives in Las Vegas, says he returned to Ultimate Frizbie three months after the surgery. He gave one of his kidneys to his sister in 2004. Jerry would like to return to soccer when his Dr. gives the OK.

Jerry feels his decision had "lots of value." As a past Counselor of the Year for Muscular Dystrophy, his awareness to programs such as matchingdonors.com give hope to people who are in medical need of new friends.

On Sunday, February 14, cards, chocolates and hearts will be bought and given to old and new friends. This Valentine’s Day give someone an extra special something. Maybe not a kidney, but the awareness of something more valuable than a commercial buy. 

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