Michael (Mike) Beller wanted to make a real difference in the lives of others. He didn’t want to help just one person, he wanted to help as many people as he could. So Mike decided to altruistically donate one of his kidneys, which was the kickoff to a kidney transplant chain that has effected people in Atlanta to Wisconsin and beyond.
As the son of missionaries in Mexico, Mike grew up believing he had the responsibility to give back. He currently serves as Chief of Investigations for the Chamblee Police Department, and formerly served as an Army ranger. He is also the father of 5 children.
“It’s amazing,” says transplant surgeon Dr. Nicole Turgeon, “he’s lived a life where he has been giving, to his family, to his job and to his country.”
Last winter Mike started thinking abut donating a kidney. He found an article on the internet about the National Kidney Registry.
“There are 90,000 people in this country that need a kidney and there’s 1000s of them every year that die without one”, says Mike.
The National Kidney Registry matches people who need a kidney and have a willing donor who is not a match for them, with someone who is a match; therefore, connecting together a chain of transplants with p aired donors across the country.
In paired donation, an incompatible donor and recipient pair is matched with another incompatible donor and recipient pair, and the kidneys are exchanged between the pairs. By giving their kidneys to unknown, but compatible, individuals, the donors can provide two or more patients with healthy kidneys where previously no transplant would have been possible.
Mike decided he wanted to be the person to start one these chains.
“If he gave to one person, that would be great but this would allow him the possibility to maybe help two, three, five, six, and in some chains we see even up to 50 or 60 people involved,” says Dr. Turgeon.
On August 1st, Mike donated his healthy kidney that was immediately flown by passenger jet to Madison, Wisconsin to save the life of a recipient. Mike’s gift would then trigger another transplant in Pennsylvania, and then another in South Carolina and so the chain goes on.
Two and a half weeks later Mike returned to work and is doing well.
Says Mike, “I can’t think of anything else you could do that could help another human being this effectively.
Mike’s story was recently featured on Fox 5 News. You can learn more about this tremendous gift by watching the video below: