Distance runner gives life to four people through kidney donation

Kidney donation chain gives life to four strangers

MADISON, Wis. - When Tracey Hulick trains for marathons her focus is squarely on the here and now.

When she donated a kidney to a complete stranger, her focus was on giving a future to four people by creating a kidney donation chain.

“I wanted to help as many people as I possibly could,” said Hulick.

She made the decision to donate one of her kidneys after hearing a podcast.

“One of the people being interviewed on this podcast made a reference to how we are all millionaires.  What would a blind person pay for our eyes?  Someone in a wheelchair, what would they pay for our legs?  And I thought, what would someone pay for my kidney?  It is just sitting here,” said Hulick.

She made the decision to donate a kidney and contacted UW Health’s Organ and Tissue donation.

On May 23 she underwent surgery to remove a kidney that was flown to Denver and transplanted into a woman with kidney failure.

“Just knowing you are on the brink of something that’s going to change another person’s life.  I had no clue who it was,” said Hulick.

She started a kidney donation chain.  The next morning the husband of the woman receiving Tracey’s kidney underwent surgery to donate his organ.  Before the kidney chain ended four patients facing kidney failure got a second chance at life.

“I was so excited for that person,” said Hulick.

“You know if I never heard from them, I was at peace with that.”’

But three weeks after the surgery Hulick received a handwritten letter from Colorado.

It read:  “My name is Diana, and I am receiving your kidney.  I want you to know that what you are doing is a selfless thing and I am thankful to you for what you are doing.  Again, thank you so much for saving my life.”

Hulick is again training for marathons, but her view of life has changed.

“I’ve always been an optimist, but now I think I see more of the good, and I see the ripple effect more,” said Hulick.

For more information about becoming an organ donor, visit UW Health’s website at:







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