The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 23, 2014

Guardswoman recovering from successful kidney donation

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— SELINSGROVE — For former Army National Guardswoman Spc. Krystina Parks, it was mission accomplished when the kidney she donated to a stranger June 17 apparently saved the recipient’s life.

“When I heard that the person — they haven’t told me whether it’s a male or female — was off dialysis, that made it all worthwhile for me,” a recovering Parks said from her home in Selinsgrove.

The anonymous recipient had end-stage kidney disease.

Parks went into surgery at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, near Philadelphia. “It was a long one, six hours,” she said. “Kind of hard on my family that was waiting for me.”

The day after surgery “was kind of tough, but they had me walking around,” Parks said. “They do that to prevent blood clots.”

Parks was home by Friday.

“She’s amazingly strong,” stepmother Janice Parks said. “She’s walking stairs. She gets tired, but she came through the operation like a champion.”

It normally takes six weeks to recover from an operation such as this. Parks believes she’ll be back to normal in less than a month.

“I wouldn’t doubt her, ever,” Janice Parks said.

Krystina will have to be monitored for about two years, she said. “Lankenau wants to make sure that my one remaining kidney is functioning well. They’ll do blood tests every few months,” she said.

The recipient also will be closely monitored.

“I’d like to eventually meet the person,” Krystina Parks said. “But that will be up to the person.”

Parks recently returned from an eight-month tour of duty at Camp Burhring in Kuwait, near the Iraqi border.

She got the idea to donate a kidney while in Kuwait. “I had seen a video on matchingdonors.com, and it was short. A gentleman had donated a kidney, and it stuck with me for a couple of weeks after seeing that, so I looked into it a little bit further, and I decided that when I got home, it was something I’d like to do, to be able to help somebody in that way. I can’t even put into words how thankful I am, how humbling it is.”

It’s a great thing to give back, she said. “I’ve been blessed with very good health, and I’m just giving back to someone who hasn’t been so blessed.”