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A Family Affair: Greg Receives Kidney Transplant

One in three Americans are at-risk for kidney disease. And most don’t know it.

That was the case for local musician, Greg McFarlane, drummer for the reggae band Ipso Facto. A trip to the hospital for a broken toe revealed Greg’s kidneys were failing. He would need a new kidney to survive.

“Without one I would die,” Greg tells KARE-11. “There’s no ‘maybe’ about it.”

It took Greg a while to adjust to the lifestyle changes he would need to make. “The next step was to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve just been taken from the ‘normal people’ to the ‘sick people,’” explains Greg. Greg was a rock-and-roller whose days started at 7 o’clock at night all his life. It was a major adjustment. “To go to bed at 8 p.m. was unheard of and probably impossible,” said Greg.

Over 85% of the national transplant waiting list – out of 100,000+ people – are patients in need of a new kidney. One way to reduce the waiting list is to become a living organ donor. Through living donation, one person can donate one of their two kidneys – you only need one to live.

Greg remembers watching his brother Wain receive a donated kidney from his generous niece Yai Tieh in 2008, saving Wain’s life from kidney disease. Just five years later, Greg found himself following in his brother’s footsteps when he, too, was diagnosed with kidney disease. 

Exactly eight years following his brother’s kidney transplant, Greg also received the gift of a kidney from his niece, Angela Graham, on his birthday. The four-hour surgery was done at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

The transplant not only saved, but also transformed, the musician’s life. Greg describes how he was “reborn again” was more than he could ever ask for: “There’s something about what happens in the universe that allows everything to fall in place – in the right time, and the right season.”

Greg is inspired to raise awareness of organ donation since his niece’s generosity saved his life. Beyond registering to be a donor, Greg challenges everyone to consider this:  

“What if it became a conversation – an everyday conversation – about organ donation? That it’s just a yes or a no. Are you willing? Why not? Whatever your decision is, we will respect it, but let’s at least have a conversation about it.”

Living donation is a process facilitated directly through transplant centers.
For more information, please contact one of our partner transplant centers

Key Facts: About Kidney Disease

Related Links:

A Family Tradition: Sisters Donate Kidneys to Uncles Exactly 8 Years Apart | Mayo Clinic