This ongoing story with many happy endings began with the August 2015 issue of WNC Woman magazine. Susan Fredriksen, a psychiatrist living in the tiny town of Unaka in Cherokee County, read the article, “Kidney Donor Crusader Is Busting Myths, Opening Doors and Changing Lives.” The story profiled WNC kidney donor Rhonnie Leder. When Rhonnie’s husband was in dire need of a new kidney, neither she nor their three children were suitable matches.
Rhonnie wrote an impassioned letter to the editor of Cashiers Crossroads Chronicle, imploring people to consider becoming a living kidney donor to Sam. Six people responded, and one young mother turned out to be a perfect match. Sam received his life-giving kidney, and Rhonnie decided to show her gratitude by donating one of her healthy kidneys to someone else in need.
Rhonnie’s article had a profound impact on Susan. Susan had been on the bone marrow donor list for decades, and was disappointed she aged out when she hit 60. Because of her compassionate nature, Susan desired to continue to be of service to others, but she wasn’t sure, at her age, how to make that happen. Rhonnie changed all that for Susan when she let WNC readers know there was no such age