Last April, KSDK Anchor Anne Allred hadn’t given a thought to organ donation. She was preparing to have a baby in September and balancing life as an evening anchor of KSDK news.
A year later, everything is different for Allred as she marks this year’s National Donate Life Month. In the past year, she faced the premature birth of her daughter, Nora, and her extended stay in the NICU, severe renal failure due to a rare kidney disorder, dialysis and an eventual kidney transplant.
“To describe those months, I feel now that I’m getting some distance from it all, I cannot believe it happened,” Allred said. “I feel like I dipped into somebody else’s life and came back out of it. It seemed surreal and it was, just to be frank, miserable and horrible and very hard on our family and I’m so lucky we got through it.”
Allred was initially unaware her kidneys were failing because she had just had her daughter by emergency c-section. By the time the doctors realized the problem, she had to immediately start emergency dialysis, sitting in a dark room for nine hours a day for three weeks with tubes attached to her stomach, pumping the poison out of her internal organs.
At the end of the day, if she had enough energy, Allred would then drive to Children’s Hospital to see her daughter in the NICU.
“When you’re faced with those kind of things, you don’t have any choice but to keep going,” Allred said. “That’s what I told myself. I had my daughter to keep going for.”
On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Allred shared her experiences of the last year with host Don Marsh.
Nora eventually left the hospital and Allred returned to KSDK.
“Now that I’m away from it, I don’t know how I was working,” Allred said. “I went back to work in October and worked just up to the surgery in January. At the end of night, I could barely climb the stairs to get to my car. Everything was Mt. Kilimanjaro. I remember telling myself daily: you love this job, you’re going to get better, you’re going to want this job when you get better.”
Early into her prognosis, Allred was tested and placed on the list for a kidney transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, one of four hospitals in the region that perform organ transplants. She found out she was on the list with 1000 other people waiting for a kidney at that hospital alone.
Brian, a long-time family friend, stepped forward along with their friend Mike. After months of testing to find out if the organs would match, in November Allred found out she had matched with Mike. The surgery took place on January 24 and both donor and recipient are recovering remarkably, Allred said.
“I feel like I got a new battery,” Allred said. “I feel like someone ripped my battery out and I got a new one. He’s doing great, back on the golf course and back to fishing. He saved my life. I see Anne again. I felt like she went away for months and months and months. Now I feel like she’s back.”
Allred is now back at work, but she said some things have changed in the ways she approaches her journalism.
“Mike Bush said to me the other day ‘you know, you’re just a different Anne now. Every other day I turn around and you have tears in your eyes,’” Allred said. “My empathy level, I’m just so sensitive to people who are suffering. … It just makes me want to cry. I want to cry a lot when I’m doing my job. It’s hard. It’s hard to digest all of this. I used to have some pretty good callouses, because they are necessary when you’re a journalist. But those kind of disappeared.”
This Saturday Allred will emcee the Celebrate Life 5K Run/Walk at Creve Coeur Lake, which honors St. Louis organ transplant community, both donors and recipients. She hopes to raise awareness of the need for organ donation through sharing her own story and highlighting the stories of others.
“We’re in dire need of organs – 119,000 people need them,” Allred told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “There are living donations and donations that occur after death. When someone passes away, they can save up to eight lives.”
Allred recommended that those interested in organ donation but wanting to learn more about it should visit https://www.midamericatransplant.org/ and https://www.unos.org/donation/facts/ for more information.
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.