Outlook Magazine - Fall 2021

Sharing the gift of life Retired alumni director donates kidney to friend, UW-Stout colleague


colon to deteriorate. That caused renal failure. LaVenture spent four hours a day, three days a week in dialysis until the transplant. After the transplant, Pittman, who retired 2013 after 23 years at UW-Stout, was able to leave the hospital in three days. LaVenture, who taught at UW-Stout for 18 years,

riends for nearly 40 years, when retired UW-Stout alumni director Sue Pittman learned Lynn LaVenture, a retired lecturer in education and counseling, needed a kidney Pittman immediately got tested to see if she was a match. Then Pittman waited. Assuming she was rejected as a potential donor because of her age, Pittman, then 74, and LaVenture both cried tears of joy when word arrived that the two were a match. “I just had the feeling I was going to be the one,” Pittman said. “I was really surprised I didn’t get a call for several months.” On June 25, 2020, at Methodist Hospital in Rochester, Minn., in side-by-side surgery bays, Pittman had a kidney removed and doctors transplanted it into LaVenture. The kidney started working immediately. “I really was so grateful,” LaVenture said, her voice breaking with emotion as she wiped tears from her eyes. “I had at least a half dozen people offer to donate but Sue was the match. People I didn’t know were willing to try and help me. It makes me cry.”

“I just think we have an obligation to help each other”

Lynn LaVenture (left), and Sue Pittman

stayed for about eight weeks in the Rochester area for testing to make sure the transplant was successful. Both suffered no ill effects from the surgery and hope their story will encourage others to consider being organ donors and give the gift of life. “I just think we have an obligation to help each other,” Pittman said.

Pittman smiled and said to LaVenture: “That really is a testament to you, Lynn.” LaVenture fell ill on April 24, 2017, after going out to dinner with her husband, Ed, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and his master’s degree in construction management from UW-Stout, and other family members. Some of the diners got food poisoning from a dip served at the restaurant. After going to the hospital in Menomonie, Lynn was transferred to an Eau Claire hospital. There, her colon was found to be deteriorating and needed to be removed, although doctors have not said for sure what caused the


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