‘Emotional experience’

Marshall mail carrier donating kidney to husband’s aunt

Photo by Donna Slettedahl Marshall mail carrier Tara Hartson of Revere, right, will be donating a kidney to her aunt-in-law Mary Allen, also of Revere, on Thursday.

REVERE — Imagine making the sacrifice to offer your own kidney so that a relative could live.

Marshall mail carrier Tara Hartson, who commutes from her home in Revere, is donating her kidney to her husband’s aunt, Mary Allen, of Revere. To help Hartson out, friends and relatives got together recently in her hometown of Revere to throw a fundraiser to help with living expenses while recovering after the operation. The event raised $1,000 toward the operation and a Go Fund Me page has been set up in Hartson’s name.

“I volunteered right away when my husband, Jeremy, told me she was in the hospital for kidney failure,” Hartson said. “I was very excited and a little shocked at how close a match we were considering we’re not (blood) related. I was very relieved that I could help her start feeling better, and Jeremy is very supportive.”

Hartson is a mother of two young children, Brilynn, 6, and Asher, 2, who will be staying with the next door neighbor during Hartson’s weeklong stay in Rochester.

But Hartson has a drive to help people whenever she can.

“I would tell people that if they know somebody or want to help somebody like this, to go ahead and see if it’s possible,” she said. “I try to spread the word as much as I can.”

Hartson’s brother-in-law, Scott Hartson of Lamberton, is the only other person she knows who has done anything like this, and the most she’d ever done in the past was to donate blood.

“This will be Aunt Mary’s second donation,” Hartson said. “The first was 17 years ago. That one was donated by Scott.”

The surgeries will be happening at the Mayo Clinic on Thursday, Hartson said.

For Hartson, the procedure will make her prone to high blood pressure and creatinine levels. An elevated creatinine level signifies impaired kidney function or kidney disease.

“For the next two years, every six months, I have a contract with the Mayo for checkups,” Hartson said. “That’s standard procedure.”

In order to prepare for the surgery, Hartson said she would be reporting to the Mayo Clinic Wednesday.

“I will be up there all day long for blood work, meeting with surgeons to decide which kidney they’ll take and what kind of incision they’ll make,” Hartson said. “I will also meet with my coordinator to go over the blood work levels and to make sure I’m OK with my decision, that I don’t have any fears or second thoughts on doing it.”

Hartson said she will be at the Mayo for about three days after surgery, then stay in Rochester at a hotel for another two days since she would have so far to travel home.

“I hope to be off work for just a month,” she said, fingers crossed for luck. “My husband will be up there the entire week with me. Some family may come up and visit me for a couple of days.”

Allen will be in the hospital for four to five days and staying in Rochester for about a month after that, Hartson said, to stay in touch with doctors and make sure her body doesn’t reject the new addition.

Once back into the daily routine of work and chasing after her children, Hartson will have to take some special precautions.

“I will have to take in more water, stay hydrated,” she said. “I can’t do full-contact sports. I used to do Tae Kwon Do and mixed martial arts in high school, but haven’t had time with the kids. I get exercise with work and going to the weight room.”

For the first month after surgery, Hartson said she will have a weight lifting restriction of 10 pounds. That may be tough on her little boy as he is 35 pounds, she said.

This is an emotional experience to go through,” Hartson said.