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Lawyer gives up kidney so a friend’s dad can live

first_img‘It shows to the community the kind of lawyers we have in The Florida Bar’ Jan Pudlow Senior Editor St. Louis Cardinals short-stop David Eckstein is a clutch hitter who often keeps his team in the running.And his dad, 60-year-old Whitey Eckstein is back in the game of life after a Florida lawyer gave him her kidney.That Florida lawyer is 32-year-old Lori Vaughan, senior counsel in Foley & Lardner’s Tampa office, specializing in business reorganization.When she learned she would be a compatible kidney donor for Eckstein, and went through the six months of extensive tests, Vaughan’s generous donation has totally reorganized Whitey Eckstein’s life.Before, his painful routine involved three or four hours of hemodialysis three times a week. Too much fluid in his body caused congestive heart failure more than once, including a month before the August 19 surgery.Now Whitey Eckstein, of Sanford, is living life fully — cheering on son David from the stands.He calls Vaughan the hero who gave him back his life.“Every time I see him, he gives me a big hug,” said Vaughan, who became friends with Whitey’s other children, Ken and Christine Eckstein, while they were all in law school at the University of Florida.“I got a call from Patricia, his wife, telling me, ‘Lori, I have to thank you. He is out living his life.”Kidney transplants are nothing new in the Eckstein family. Ken, Christine, and another sister, Susan, all had kidney transplants. Susan’s donor was her mother. Christine and Ken received kidneys from cadavers, and Ken jokes he was a 21-year-old with a 50-year-old’s kidney when his wait for a kidney ended 14 years ago.“It’s a senior citizen now. If I can get benefits, I’m all for it,” Ken jokes.But his father’s desperate need for a kidney was no laughing matter. Without a new kidney, he was going to die.“I became extremely close to Whitey and Patricia. They treat me like one of their own children, and they are like a second family to me,” Vaughan said. “I always knew Ken and his two sisters had to have transplants. I knew what the family had gone through.”Everyone who had volunteered to donate a kidney to Whitey was unable to donate for one reason or another. So Vaughn told Ken and Christine she was the same blood type as their father and she would be willing to go through the six-month screening and testing process.“After I found out I was compatible, you think to yourself, ‘If it’s a go, will I go through with it?’ It wasn’t a difficult decision. Surgery is the worst part. Afterwards your remaining kidney compensates for the other kidney. You can lead a normal life. I thought to myself, ‘It’s very little discomfort for me to go through to help Whitey live,’” Vaughan said.It helped to have an understanding boss, Foley & Lardner partner Mark Wolfson, who is chair of The Florida Bar’s Business Law Section.“Lori is such a quality person, and I don’t say that about everybody,” Wolfson said. “It shows to the community the kind of lawyers we have in The Florida Bar.. . . You want to do everything you can in your power to make her life easier and make her situation better. It was the most unselfish act you could do, to donate an organ to someone who is not even in your family.”What Wolfson agreed to do to make Vaughan’s life easier was subtract on an annualized basis the billable hours requirement and allow her to work from home until she got her strength back.“Lori is so good at what she does, she will make it up quickly and probably won’t even need some of that time because of her work ethic,” Wolfson said.Vaughan feels great now and wants to share her story to encourage others to sign an organ donation form and realize the great gifts you can give, even after your death.And there’s another message tucked in her story.“When you hear the lawyer jokes, most people are kidding. But there is sometimes this attitude that lawyers don’t have a heart,” Vaughan said. “Yes, we are humans just like everyone else. We are not perfect, but we try our best.” Lawyer gives up kidney so a friend’s dad can live Lawyer gives up kidney so a friend’s dad can livecenter_img November 15, 2005 Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img

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