The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 16, 2014

Serendipity connects single moms in kidney donation

Serendipity and a kidney connected Jen True and Heather Sandland

To understand the dark place Jen True was at in her mind that day — the day her impulse to do the right thing would change lives — one must first understand the death that put her there.

Aric True, her free-spirited brother who offered his heart to anyone who needed it, took his own life after trying for years to fend off the demons that drove him to drug addiction. His death devastated and haunted her, almost to the point of depression. Even though she was getting professional counseling help, still ... She was struggling.

So when she picked up the paper on Feb. 3, 2013, she did so as a woman with a heart in need.

She read one article that day. It was about a woman who, like her late brother, had three sons. Heather Sandland, the article said, was enduring the grueling three-days-a-week routine of dialysis, the process where machines clean the blood of those whose kidneys can no longer do it for them. Eventually, without a kidney transplant, Sandland would die. And that just didn't sit right with True.

"My brother didn't have to die. He slipped through the cracks," True said. "And Heather didn't have to die either."

She decided right there, moments after reading about Sandland's plight, that she wasn't going to let this case be another one where tragedy happens and people are left to wonder "what if ..." and "if only ..."

"I was reading this article and bawling my eyes out," she said. "I thought of my brother's sons, growing up without a dad. And I just decided that I'm giving this person a kidney."

Easier said than done

Before doing anything, True, 42, a Mankato Realtor, consulted the people who mean more to her than anything: her sons.

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