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Kian Auerbach: Living-Donor Kidney Transplant Patient Story

Kidney Disease and a Daughter’s Promise


Kian’s father was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was just two. It was difficult watching him struggle with health issues as she grew up, and Kian promised him that one day she would save his life.

After a six-year career in the Air Force, Kian moved to Las Vegas, Nev., and took a job working on fighter pilot simulators. Back home in the Pittsburgh area, her father continued to struggle with kidney disease and the toll that dialysis took on his body.

When Kian learned that her father needed a kidney transplant, she assumed he’d have to wait for a deceased-donor kidney. Once her family learned that living-donor kidney transplant was an option, Kian jumped at the opportunity to potentially become her father’s living donor. Her parents were resistant to the idea at first, but Kian was determined.

“I said, ‘Please let me do this for you. I promised you a long time ago.’ This is something I could do for him as a thank you,” says Kian. “He’s my father and my best friend.“

From Las Vegas to Pittsburgh

Kian traveled to Pittsburgh for a living donor evaluation and learned she was a match shortly after she returned home to Las Vegas. Her response?

“Ok, when can we do this?”

Kian shared the news with her husband and two children and spoke openly with them about the process.

“My kids were nervous but very excited because their grandfather was going to be healthy for the first time in a very long time,” she says.

She had her family’s support when they accompanied her to Pittsburgh two months later to become her father’s living-kidney donor.

“I wasn’t even nervous for surgery,” she says. “I was so excited and ready to go.”

On surgery day, Kian and her father were wheeled to the pre-operative area together – a moment she describes as “pivotal and powerful.” Kian’s IVs were placed first.

“My father’s veins aren’t really good, so it can be a struggle to get his IVs in. It can be a lot more painful for him,” she says.

The nurse anesthetist wheeled Kian beside her father so they could hold hands during the process.

“It is such a core memory for me,” Kian says. “It was just that moment and them being so loving, compassionate, and supportive. They made sure we were so connected until I absolutely had to get wheeled away.”

Life After Living Donation

Kian and her father had successful surgeries, and both are doing well in their recoveries. Kian is back home and doing what she loves – cooking and spending time with her family. She describes her father as “thriving with a better quality of life” after his transplant, as he no longer suffers from the side effects of dialysis.

Kian is grateful for the care she and her father received at UPMC and expresses particular gratitude to Dr. Amit Tevar.

“He is a surgeon and a person that everybody should emulate. I have so much respect for him – his care, his compassion, and his love for every single one of his patients,” she says. “The whole transplant team is absolutely phenomenal.”

Kian is grateful she could keep her childhood promise to help her father, and she encourages others to consider living donation.

“We have two kidneys for a reason. We have this amazing ability to give someone life,” she says. “To know that so many people die waiting on a kidney? They have those memories stripped from them. They have that time stripped from them. Please give someone the gift of life. Please give someone those memories – those hugs with their grandchildren; those hugs with their children.”

These patients' treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

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