Originally created 06/14/06

Sheriff's deputy believes donating a kidney to friend is her destiny

SUMTER, S.C. - Sumter County Sheriff's Office Senior Cpl. Toni Pann is a believer in fate. The 27-year-old says donating a kidney to a close friend is simply something she was meant to do.

"How often do you get to do something like saving someone's life?" she said.

Cpl. Pann, who has been with the sheriff's office patrol division almost two years, will undergo surgery at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., in August.

She is donating her kidney to her 31-year-old friend Julie, of Savannah, Ga., who became ill in February with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. Also known as Hughes Syndrome, APS is a disorder characterized by several antibodies that are associated with both arterial and venous clots.

The transplant, Cpl. Pann said, is necessary because her friend, the mother of a 1-year-old girl, has blood clots in her kidneys. Making the decision to be a donor was an easy one, she said.

"I just wanted to make sure she is around to see her daughter grow up," Cpl. Pann said. "I prayed about it and asked God that if I was supposed to do this to make me a match, and I found out that I was. I just think everything happens for a reason."

On any given day, according to the Mayo Clinic, at least 60,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States.

In her career at the sheriff's office, Cpl. Pann has been through a lot, Maj. Hampton Gardner said, including being shot at during an alleged gang-related incident in September.

The shooting came, he said, only weeks after two of her partners were shot in an unrelated incident.

In April, she pulled several ligaments in her knee while chasing a suspect and has been on light duty inside the sheriff's offices ever since.

"She's one of those that will get right in there in the mix," Maj. Gardner said. "She's right out there with the best of them."

Maj. Gardner said the only worry Cpl. Pann has expressed about the surgery is making sure her job and rank will be secure.

She will be away from her duties in Sumter for about a month.

"Without hesitation, we said, 'yes,'" he said. "But we also wanted to make sure this was something she wanted to do."

Doctors, Cpl. Pann said, told her they typically don't like to perform kidney transplants that involve a live donor, but even if her friend could get on a waiting list, it could take seven years to find a match. Until then, her friend would have to undergo kidney dialysis.

"I want to do this," she said. "If I can help someone survive, other than my regular duties here, I'm going to do it."


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