QCA resident donates kidney to her best friend struggling with kidney failure

Beam and O’Dell said they are talking about getting a tattoo or scheduling a yearly vacation to commemorate the anniversary of their kidney transplant.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 4:30 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MILAN, Ill. (KWQC) - In October 2020, Alysia Beam learned she would need a new kidney.

“The first thought that goes through your mind is, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to die,’” Beam said. “Instant fear, instant panic. What do I do? What’s going to happen? I went back to the [University of Iowa] hospital frequently. Every month they were checking up on me for appointments, blood draws, and lab work.”

Beam had kidney failure, which was caused by lupus, an autoimmune disease that attacks a person’s tissues and organs.

“[Finding a donor] starts off with a blood test. You gotta make sure that, since me being an ‘A’ [blood type], if the other person is going to be an ‘A’ or an ‘O.’ After that, it’s gotta break down my antibodies, and their antibodies to make sure that there isn’t a clash because you will have a higher chance of rejection with the antibodies that are in the blood systems,” Beam said.

In June 2021, Beam went on the kidney waiting list and remained on it for over a year until she got a message.

“I mean, I knew who my donor was going to because she pressed on,” Beam said.

Beam’s kidney donor was Lori O’Dell, her best friend since seventh grade.

“When she was diagnosed, we knew this was always a potential,” O’Dell said. “As soon as I heard it was real, and she needed something, I mean, it was the first thing I did. There was no hesitation. Sign up, let’s do it.”

It’s a moment the two best friends and their families won’t forget.

“Grateful that I was able to help her and her family. She has a little girl and a husband,” O’Dell said.

Both Beam and O’Dell say they are a bit sore from the procedure, but it was all worth it.

“She’s been so sick and to see her smile and to even feel up to even doing this [interview] is just a gift,” O’Dell said.

“It’s just like heaven for me. I mean, I get to be with my best friend and carry a part of her with me for the rest of my life,” Beam said.

Beam and O’Dell said they are talking about getting a tattoo or scheduling a yearly vacation to commemorate the anniversary of their kidney transplant.

To learn how you can sign up to donate an organ, click or tap here.