Super-kidney donor

Jerran Higgins, our super-donor

Garrett and Jerran at UCSF Medical Center (February 24, 2015)

Well, folks, we’re happy to say that we can finally share with you the name of the donor who will be giving one of his healthy kidneys to Garrett in just a couple of weeks. Jerran Higgins is a long-time friend and coworker of Garrett’s dad, a husband, father of two, and brother. And he’s about to be a living kidney donor.

Years ago, Jerran and Garrett’s dad Gary played on a city league ice hockey team together. Their families got to know each other through ocassional team events, birthday parties and the Ramos kids’ football fundraisers. About seven years ago, Jerran went to work with Gary and the two continued their friendship over coffee breaks and work projects.

Last summer, Gary was progressing along the path to donate his kidney to Garrett, but some minor health issues disqualified him. He got the disappointing call from UCSF that he would not be able to donate while at a training with Jerran and a dozen other guys. 

Jerran’s immediate response? “What do I need to do to get tested?”

Jerran’s immediate response? “What do I need to do to get tested?”

Because Liz and Gary had counted on Gary being able to donate, they’d waved off other would-be donors. Still others had inquired but not yet followed through.

Jerran set things in motion, contacting University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) to begin a months-long screening process. The tests were simple–blood draws, stool and urine samples that could be done at Kaiser Permanente, his care provider, or a local lab. Eventually, he went to UCSF for CT scans and other tests to ensure he and his kidneys are in the best possible health to secure a good outcome for both he and Garrett.

Donor Jerran Higgins making hospitals fun 

A few weeks ago, the match was confirmed, Jerran’s health deemed excellent, and the surgery was scheduled for March 10, 2015.

“I had a feeling before the first blood draw that I would be a match,” Jerran said. He wouldn’t get tested without seriously considering what it meant to donate. The only concern he had after discussing with his family was the off chance that down the road if something happened to his kids, he wouldn’t be able to donate to them. But his kids are healthy, and Jerran and his wife Mandi believe that you can’t hold out for something so unlikely and unknown. God will provide in that moment if it ever comes.

“I just have always had this feeling from the time I was young that I was meant to do something like this,” Jerran said.

Garrett Ramos gets his blood drawn for a final cross-match with his kidney donor

Like a confirmation, in the pre-operative appointment to do a final blood cross-match, and discuss the logistics of the upcoming surgery, the case nurse, Diane, said, “Jerran, you have a super-kidney!”

We all laughed. Maybe Jerran and Garrett would get super-kidney tattoos together. We would never hear the end of it from Jerran–how super his kidneys are. But it’s no joke. Jerran is just one of those people with extraordinarily high-functioning kidneys. The medical staff said that once he is left with one kidney, it will grow and take on the extra work–as anyone’s would–but his one kidney will literally do the work that most people’s two kidneys do. It will still be a big change to his body but he’s expected to live a totally normal life.

So what is Jerran like? He makes friends of everyone he meets, the more the merrier. And he makes a pre-operative visit a laugh fest for everyone with his irrevent jokes, teasing of staff, and self deprecating humor.

A few weeks ago, Jerran and Mandi were having a serious conversation in the kitchen about the possibility of the donation, except he kept saying “heart” instead of “kidney.” They kept laughing at his mistake, joking that he better double check right before he goes under: “It’s the kidney, right?”

“You can’t be a living heart donor,” Mandi later said, laughing, to Garrett’s dad, Gary.

“But Jerran would be the one to try,” Gary said.

Garrett’s dad, Gary Ramos, and donor Jerran Higgins in the UCSF Transplant Center waiting room.

You don’t have to have a super-kidney to be a super donor! Anyone with a healthy kidney can donate. 

3 thoughts on “Super-kidney donor

  1. For sooooooooooo many of us the Ramos family is synonymous with brotherhood, sisterhood, family, LOVE and happiness…

    Although I don’t know Jerran, MANY props to him, his wife and family, all for having and showing the strength, courage and bravery to be a donor for Garret… Obviously that level of friendship speaks volumes for the type of person and friend Jerran must be…

    Certainly not only will Jerran be blessed for his gift, as will the Higgins & Ramos families and “all” of us as well in having Garret around for a long long time…

    God Bless


  2. A huge thank you to Jerran, Mandi, and his two kids for making this huge gift to Garrett and the Ramos family. It’s nice to see the Ramos family receive this precious gift since they are always the ones giving to those they all know. Both of your families are inspiring and our prayers and good wishes will be with you all during this “super-kidney transplant”!

    The Suzuki’s

    p.s. My Jarren remembers when he met Jerran a few years ago and remember it was cool to meet him & share similar yet different spelled names.


  3. This is Nana. What a beautiful tribute to Garrett and Jerran and their families and friends. We are all pulling for you. I am keeping you close in my prayers. Love, Nana


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