Hansen donates kidney for Molfese

Photo Credit: Dennis Molfese and David Hansen
by Robert Belli Wed, 05/31/2017 - 14:36

In October of 2016, the kidney function of Dennis Molfese was down to 5% and his blood pressure was at 180/140, the latter placing him at significant risk for a stroke. Dennis had lived with kidney disease for the past decade, but the disease had accelerated over the past four years. He was in desperate need of an organ transplant.

He informed David Hansen, a colleague in the Department of Psychology and director of the Center for Brain, Biology, and Behavior, who encouraged Molfese to reach out to potential living donors. Molfese was reluctant -- he understood that being a living donor for a kidney transplant involves some degree of health risks associated with major surgery -- but Hansen was convincing. Boosting Molfese’s morale was a memo that Hansen wrote and forwarded to colleagues and friends explaining Molfese’s condition.

When a clear direct donor could not be found, Hansen decided that he would donate his kidney to someone else in exchange for someone else to donate one of their kidneys to Molfese.

“I always thought I would donate a kidney if I knew someone in need,” Hansen said. He was “pleased to have such an opportunity” and that he “would have been willing to donate a kidney for any family member, friend, or colleague.”

At the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Organ Transplant Program in Omaha, Hansen underwent a series of medical tests to assess whether he could physically donate.

Eventually, on February 27, 2017, both psychologists went into surgery. Because of Hansen’s donation, Molfese’s health has improved considerably, and he is anticipating returning soon to his full schedule. Hansen recuperated as well and has returned to work.

Molfese was deeply moved by Hansen’s donation, “I had previously saved two lives, a toddler from drowning and a college woman who was involved in a horrific accident in which others died. I appreciated their families’ thanks and the gratitude of the young lady.

“However, it was not until Dave’s incredibly generous and brave act that I came to a more profound understanding of the depths of their gratitude. Being a recipient of Dave’s bravery and generosity as well as the support received from his family has been incredibly humbling and jubilant in ways that I never anticipated. My family and I are profoundly and forever grateful to Dave and his family for their exceptional heroic decision, generosity and courage.”