Woman Receives Life-Saving Kidney Transplant from Unlikely Source: Her Blood Technician

Jill Buckeye received a transplant from Jaylin Chadwell, her phlebotomy technician at Cleveland Clinic Twinsburg Family Health & Surgery Center

CCC-2914680_04-19-22_Jen Tadiello; Transplant Center; Dr Alvin Wee; Dr Mohamed Eltemamy; KidneyTransplant; Donor and Recipient; Jill Buckeye; Reciepient; Jaylin Chadwell; Donor; Photo Releases
Photo: Cleveland Clinic

Despite successfully managing diabetes for much of her life, Jill Buckeye started experiencing kidney failure in 2019 when she was in her early 60s.

She needed a life-saving kidney transplant, and while many of her friends and loved ones volunteered to become a donor, none were a match.

During this time, Buckeye made weekly visits to Cleveland Clinic Twinsburg Family Health & Surgery Center to have her blood drawn. She became friends with phlebotomy technician Jaylin Chadwell, who helped remove more than a dozen tubes of blood from Buckeye during her visits, something she noticed was far more than other patients at the clinic.

"Most of the time, you draw three to five tubes [of blood] from a patient," Chadwell, 22, told the clinic.

"When Jill would come in, it would be like 13 tubes every time," she recalled. "One day, I asked her, 'Why am I taking so much blood?'"

CCC-2914680_04-19-22_Jen Tadiello; Transplant Center;Dr Alvin Wee, Dr Mohamed Eltemamy, KidneyTransplant; Donor and Recipient; Jill Buckeye, Reciepient, Jaylin Chadwell, Donor, Photo Releases,
Jill Buckeye and Jaylin Chadwell with Josh Augustine, MD, Mohammed Eltemamy, MD, and Alvin Wee, MD. Cleveland Clinic

After listening to Buckeye's story, Chadwell soon realized they shared the same blood type. So, inspired by her grandfather who died of cancer years earlier, Chadwell told Buckeye she would volunteer herself as a donor.

"I just knew I was going to be a donor someday. If I could do it and was medically cleared, I would do it," Chadwell told the clinic, adding that she knew as a child that she wanted to save a life one day.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 13 people die each day while waiting for a kidney transplant, and over 3,000 others are added to the transplant list each month. The wait for a donor can be an arduous one for many on the list, but after undergoing a series of tests at Cleveland Clinic, doctors informed Buckeye and Chadwell that they were indeed a match.

"At first, I thought she was 28, but she's the most mature 22-year-old I've ever met," Buckeye said of Chadwell.

She continued: "And what person, at just age 12, thinks about being an organ donor? Jaylin amazes me."

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The two recently underwent a successful operation, and Buckeye said she is now feeling better than ever thanks to Chadwell's selfless decision.

"I'm doing very well. I have a super kidney from Jaylin," Buckeye said. "It's working wonderfully and will keep me forever young in heart and in kidney!"

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