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Joliet home health nurse donating a kidney on Wednesday to someone she’s never met

Julie Lakomiak hopes her story inspires others to donate, too.

Julie Lakomiak is donating her kidney to a stranger  on Wednesday. She doesn’t know who the stranger is but wanted to do an act of kindness that could save a life. Monday, August 1, 2022 in Joliet.

On Wednesday, Julie Lakomiak, 40, of Plainfield is donating her kidney to a “non-directed recipient.”

This means, Lakomiak doesn’t know who the recipient will be. But as a nurse for almost 20 years, Lakomiak wants to help someone in need and make others aware of the need.

“I heard something recently: ‘God blesses us with two kidneys and we only need one,’” Lakomiak said. “And He does that so we can share.’ So, I think there’s a lot of truth to that.”

Lakomiak first considered donating a kidney in 2021. She had read on social media that the kidneys of Lizzie Reyes, 14, of Joliet had unexpectedly failed and that she desperately needed a kidney transplant.

But Lizzie received a kidney before Lakomiak, a nurse with Newsome Home Health, was even tested for a possible match, Lakomiak said.

Then Lakomiak met someone who needed a liver and kidney transplant but was too sick to qualify for the transplants. That’s when she made up her mind.

“I just felt like a lot of these signs in my life was God saying, ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Lakomiak said. “Why not help when there’s so much of a need?”

According to the U.S. Division of Transplantation, more than 106,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list - and 83% of them need a kidney.

But deciding to donate a kidney doesn’t mean it will happen. A potential donor must undergo a medical history, physical and psychological exams and many, many tests, including chest X-ray and electrocardiogram, imaging tests and compatibility tests, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Lakomiak said she is donating through Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and that she spent 11 hours there one day with tests.

“I got stuck nine times that day,” she said.

Lakomiak said she occasionally has “waves of emotions” as the day draws near and random thoughts like, “Oh, gosh! Maybe I don’t have enough life insurance!” and making sure she has short term disability, “in case something happens.”

But Lakomiak hasn’t changed her mind.

“I’m still very excited to do it,” she said. “I think that my motto has been, ‘Faith over fear.’ ”

Lakomiak said a friend recently expressed disbelief over Lakomiak’s decision and asked what she’ll do if a loved one ever needs a kidney. With a laugh Lakomiak said she replied, “I’m going to come to you and ask you to give.”

But, Lakomiak is serious when she said it’s important for her to have faith.

“We can’t always live life on ‘what if?’ ” she said.

For information on becoming a living donor, visit kidney.org/atoz/content/living-donation.