‘Ultimate Christmas gift’: Shawnee councilwoman donating a kidney to a stranger

SHAWNEE, Kan. – It’s the season of giving, and for one Shawnee councilwoman that means donating one of her organs.

Stephanie Meyer, who represents Shawnee's Ward III, contemplated donating one of her kidneys for years but never acted on it until late last year.

“I was having a conversation with one of my best friends and said, ‘The next time this comes up, I’m going to say yes,'” Meyer said.

A week after that promise to her friend, Meyer saw a Facebook post from an old high school friend detailing how the woman’s husband, Dan Harmon, needed a new kidney.

Harmon, who lives in Wichita, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease when he was 13 years old.

“Basically, cysts are growing on my kidneys, killing the healthy tissue, which has dropped the filtration down a healthy percentage,” Harmon said.

Shawnee Councilwoman Stephanie Meyer and Dan Harmon

The three connected and started the donor process. For months, Meyer had to check her blood pressure daily, have her blood drawn countless times which ultimately ended with a full day scan at KU Hospital.

“The hospital does almost every test you can imagine,” Meyer said. “Stress test, EKGs, how my organs were connected to veins and arteries, just doing all the due diligence to make sure it was safe for both of us.”

There are nearly 100,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list, according to the Living Kidney Donor Network. The odds of strangers being a match is 1 in 32,000, and finding a match can take 3-5 years.

In May, Meyer and Harmon learned they were a match.

“It had to be fate,” Meyer said. “The odds of me seeing the post, the odds of me being a match, being able to go through this -- there is no other way to explain it. It’s a God thing.”

“I can’t be grateful enough,” Harmon said.

His biggest relief was knowing he wouldn’t have to worry and wait for a match.

“That’s really the biggest thing is how long can I last before it becomes dire and I have to go on dialysis,” Harmon said. “That has all lifted from me.”

He called Meyer’s donation the “ultimate Christmas gift." She considers it to be another opportunity to help a fellow human.

“It’s just an indescribable feeling to know that you can do something to lengthen or save someone’s life,” Meyer said.

Meyer and Harmon will undergo the transplant Tuesday morning at KU Hospital.