Donate life

Plaque unveiled at new driver's license station details transplant success story

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Carrie Tietz, the supervisor of the Iowa Department of Transportation Drivers License Service Center in Fort Dodge, unveils a plaque in the new building that describes how Samantha Reeves donated a kidney to her father, Terry Wingerson.

Terry Wingerson was in bad shape about six years ago.

His kidneys were failing, he was spending hours at a time undergoing dialysis and his overall health seemed to be getting worse and worse.

Relief for the Fort Dodge man came in the form of a kidney donated by his daughter, Samantha Reeves. He was initially opposed to the transplant, fearing that it could harm her health and have a negative impact on her young family.

Reeves, of Fort Dodge, became insistent, telling her father that he would get her kidney or someone else in need would.

The transplant surgery took place on Nov. 11, 2015. Wingerson and Reeves are both in good health now.

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Samantha Reeves and Terry Wingerson pose next to a plaque in the new driver's license station in Fort Dodge, which describes how Reeves donated a kidney to Wingerson, who is her father.

“I literally felt like Superman after I had it done,” Wingerson said Monday morning.

The father and daughter’s transplant saga is detailed on a plaque just inside the door of the new Iowa Department of Transportation driver’s license station at 3229 First Ave. S. The center will open today, and anyone who comes in the main entrance will see the large plaque. It was unveiled Monday morning.

To some, a driver’s license facility may seem like an odd place to celebrate a successful organ transplant. But Anne Casey, public outreach specialist for the Iowa Donor Network, said her organization and the Department of Transportation are partners in signing up organ donors. People are given the option of registering as an organ donor when they get their driver’s license.

“We are so excited to have this partnership in promoting organ donations,” Casey said. “They are our partners in talking to people about the organ donor list.”

“We want to show these local success stories in all the different offices,” she added.

Wingerson, a supervisor at Silgan Containers, said his path to a kidney transplant began 25 years ago, when he contracted a virus that eventually attacked his kidneys.

Reeves, who works in the Academic Resource Center at Iowa Central Community College, went through the testing that revealed she was a suitable donor for her father.

“I saw how quickly his health declined,” she said.

After doctors convinced Wingerson that the surgery would be safe for his daughter, the procedure was done at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.

Wingerson said he felt so good after it was over that he sat up all night talking to his nurses. The next day, he was walking the halls of the hospital.

Reeves said it took her five to six weeks to recover, but she has been fine since then.

“I just live a normal life,” she said. “I do everything I did prior to the surgery.”

“Being a living donor was the best decision I ever made,” she said.


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