Car Donor Puts the "Good" in Goodbye

To kidney transplant recipient Jodi Haas, her dad's Lincoln Town Car was a lot more than a set of wheels. A committed family man and truckdriver by trade, Haas's dad, John Nelson Smith, had always dreamed of cruising around in a Lincoln Town Car. When he retired, Haas's mom told him to "go for it" and so he did. "The car was his pride and joy," says Haas. "He washed it lovingly. Although he let me and my brother, Gary, take it for a spin, he never went to bed until the car was safely parked in the driveway." Read about Haas's personal challenge with kidney disease and ultimate decision to donate the car to Kidney Cars and here to learn more about NKF's Kidney Cars vehicle donation program.

Haas spent many hours bonding with dad in the Town Car. Shortly after she got married, she became pregnant and suffered a miscarriage. It was then that the lupus that had been in remission since she was nine years old, flared up and attacked her kidneys. Haas's kidneys failed and she required dialysis treatment for 15 years until receiving a life-saving transplant. Although working full time while on dialysis was a challenge, Haas fondly remembers the time her Dad spent driving her to and from doctors appointments and the dialysis center. "We always drove to New York for medical checkups, talked the whole way and then went out to lunch. Those trips were not joyrides but the bond Dad and I developed in that car drew us closer than ever."

Haas's dad died two years ago at age 80 and at first, she didn't dream of saying goodbye to his precious car. But after it sat for a while, Haas began taking it out for spins and realized it needed work. She began pouring money into it and when the engine blew, her mechanic suggested that she find a good charity and donate it. "It was such a hard choice," said Haas. "I didn't want to give away a piece of Dad and I do feel his presence in that beloved car." But Haas decided to donate to the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Cars Program so that her dad could continue helping others with kidney disease. "He supported me through my illness and now, through this car donation, he'll be helping fund programs for other kidney patients. I know he'd be so proud of the choice I made."

It's often said that one good deed begets another and Haas's car donation was just the beginning. She's determined to get the word out about the importance of organ donation and is working with the National Kidney Foundation to spread the message. Haas is eternally grateful to the 21-year-old deceased donor whose family decided to give her kidney after she was killed in a car accident. She recently celebrated the 5th anniversary of her kidney transplant and is ever more determined to make a difference in the lives of others with kidney disease. She's signed up for the Kidney Walk , is recruiting her colleagues as team members and telling everyone who'll listen about the life-saving power of organ donation.