Dave Thouin’s Quest to Find a Living Kidney Donor Pays Off

Dave Thouin and his wife, Carol, worked hard to get the word out that Dave needed a kidney. Julie Mlinar saw one of the ads that eventually led her Mayo Clinic to see if she was a match.

Last May, Julie Mlinar and her husband, Mark, showed up on the doorstep of a Spring Valley, Minnesota, resident they'd never met, but who they felt like they knew well.

For months leading up to the visit, they'd seen the letters to the editor, the newspaper ads, business cards, posters, and the Facebook and CaringBridge updates by Dave Thouin and his wife, Carol. All carried the same general message: "Navy vet needs a kidney. Please, save my life."

Dave and Carol's campaign for a new kidney, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports, was borne out of reluctant necessity after attempts to find a viable match within Dave's circle of friends and family — including Carol — all failed. "It was very devastating," Carol tells the paper of not being able to donate a kidney to her husband. "It's still hard."

But Dave's desire to live overtook his reluctance to ask for help. "After Carol was rejected, I sat down (and thought), 'We've got to let people know,'" he tells the paper.

So they did, launching a campaign that would have made Don Draper proud. Julie Mlinar, the P-B reports, saw one of those ads. After reading that she and Dave shared the same blood type, Julie "clipped it out and slipped it with some other papers," assuming "somebody else would step forward."

But then, the paper reports, "something strange happened." Wherever Mlinar went, messages and signs of kidney donation would follow. "I'm like, 'What?' I kept having these suggestions," she tells the paper. "So finally I'd had enough. I decided to go on the Mayo website and research it."

That research led to testing that eventually led to that fateful knock on Dave and Carol's front door last May. Julie, a Mayo Clinic care team had confirmed, was a match for Dave. "It is still so memorable to me," Dave tells the paper of meeting Julie and her husband for the first time outside his home.
Almost a month later, because of Julie's willingness to step up, Dave would undergo a kidney transplant. Julie admits that she initially wanted to keep her lifesaving gift between her and Dave. But as the P-B reports, she decided that sharing her part in Dave's story just might encourage others to do the same. "I need to let people know that's it not something that they're ever going to die from," she tells the paper of her living kidney donor procedure at Mayo Clinic. "I really haven't had any surgeries before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But Mayo was really good. They talked you through everything. They made you very comfortable. It was a very good experience."

For everyone involved.

Read more of Julie and Dave's story here. And learn more about living-donor organ transplants here. Then step up and share your comments below, and by sharing this story with others.