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Nursing student donates kidney to 'new home'

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Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing student Jessica Norman has started her final year of nursing school just weeks after recovering from donating her kidney to a stranger at the Hume-Lee Transplant Center at the VCU Medical Center.

While on Facebook in April, the 22-year old Norman came across a posting on Facebook titled “SaveMitchell.com,” where she learned about the plight of Mitchell Lyne, a young man who needed a third kidney transplant after complications with the first kidney and continued medical challenges with his second kidney. 

“After following his story, I decided that I didn't want to live my life as the type of person that simply reads or hears about a touching story and does nothing about it,” said Norman. “So in May I began doing research about living kidney donation, and, after several weeks of research, I decided that I was comfortable enough to go get tested to see if I was a match for Mitchell.”

While Norman’s kidney was not a match, she decided to donate her kidney to an anonymous patient, which allowed that patient’s donor to give his or her kidney to Lyne — a program known as the living donor paired exchanged. 

I didn't look at it as "giving my kidney up," said Norman.  “I look at it as my kidney is getting a new home — a home in someone who needs it and who, without it, would die.”

The procedure took place in early August and by the end of the month, Norman began classes and started her 20-hours-a-week work commitment in the hospital recovery unit.

“She is an extraordinary student but more than that, she is an incredible human being,” said Alison Montpetit, Ph.D., assistant professor of VCU School of Nursing. “Jessica Norman is a nurse and has made our school and our profession incredibly proud.”

Norman is a student in nursing’s accelerated bachelor’s program and class director for the School of Nursing class of 2012.  The Henrico County native has a bachelor’s degree in government and international politics from George Mason University.

“I like to challenge myself and really push my boundaries,” said Norman. “I’m not the type of person that sits around with nothing to do.”

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