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Mar 10, 2016 3:08 PM

Everyday Heroes: NH father, daughter donated kidneys to save her best friend's life

Jamie Kenney was only 16 years old when she learned she had a rare disease that had ravaged her kidney.

She was told she’d need a kidney transplant to survive.

Jamie’s diagnosis was Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and she was put on dialysis as she waited for a donor.

But it can take years to find a kidney donor, and she was fortunate that her best friend’s father stepped up and agreed to be tested to see if he could donate one of his kidneys.

“Obviously there were family conversations, because now I don’t have a spare kidney in case I want to help someone in my own family,” said Doug Smith.

Jamie knew it was a big decision.

“It was a risk," she said. "He had a family, and he put it on the line.”

Doug decided to go through with the operation, and his kidney was successfully removed and then transplanted into Jamie at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital.

Unfortunately, Jamie’s disease returned a few years later an destroyed Doug’s transplanted kidney.

So, 10 years after receiving his kidney, she was in need of another kidney if she was to survive.

“I was really tired, and it was difficult to do things because I’d be exhausted,” said Jamie, who had no idea where to turn for another kidney donor.

To her surprise, this time, Doug’s daughter Brighid Smith stepped up to donate one of her kidneys.

“Seeing my father [go through it] - and knowing he’s fine afterwards - was a huge help," Brighid said. "You hope in the future, if you needed it, someone would do the favor back."

Last year, again at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital, the transplant operation took place and Brighid’s kidney was transplanted into Jamie to replace Doug’s transplanted kidney.

“I mean there is no way I can thank either of them for what they’ve done," Jamie said. "They saved my life, and I’m forever grateful for that."

Doug and Brighid Smith are being recognized by the American Red Cross, NH Chapter, for being Everyday Heroes. They’ll be present for the awards ceremony Wednesday, March 16 at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester.

NH1 News is proud to be the media sponsor for this special event. If you would like more information, or would like to purchase tickets, please visit their website.

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