April 25, 2023

Nurse Practitioner Donates a Kidney to Her Dad

Nurse Practitioner Donates a Kidney to Her Dad

Image: Lauren Herlihy and Larry Koch

Lauren Herlihy, DNP, APRN, CPNP, is used to helping patients on a daily basis as a nurse practitioner in North Carolina. As a Pediatric Allergy Nurse Practitioner and Food Allergy Initiative Lead Coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Herlihy works daily to help her patients overcome adversity and manage life-threatening food allergies.  So when her dad needed help, she didn’t think twice.

Stage 4 Kidney Diagnosis

Herlihy’s father, Larry Koch, was diagnosed with kidney disease that had progressed to Stage 4 during the summer of 2022. At 77, he was told that dialysis was an option except ultimately getting a kidney transplant was essential to long-term survival. At his age, the chance of getting a donor might not be entirely feasible. The donor waiting list could take four to six years and at that time, Koch in his 80s might not even be eligible for a transplant. 

But when Herlihy found she was a match, she didn’t think twice about donating a kidney to her father. 

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“He’s been a great dad,” Herlihy said. “It wasn’t a choice for me, really. I didn’t want to see him go through his final decade in life on dialysis.”

Becoming a Living Donor 

Herlihy and Koch underwent the living donor operation in March, giving Koch the best birthday gift possible. “[My birthday] was special. I’ll always remember March 21, just before my 78th birthday,” Koch said.

“She’s giving me an organ. She has children, a husband. I was always a little concerned about what the impact on her would be. I just didn’t want any risk. That’s what made me hesitate,” Koch said.

Image: Facebook

Dr. Alex Toledo, surgical director of the kidney transplant program at UNC Health believes that this was the best option for Koch and that the procedure extended his life by years.  “This really was probably a narrow window for him, and realistically speaking, living donation was really his only option,” said Toledo.


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