Health and Wellness

Hope, Healing and WellBeing

Mary Treacy O'Keefe

Hope, Healing and WellBeing – The Reluctant Donor with Suzanne Ruff

In her book, The Reluctant Donor, author Suzanne Ruff shares the story of growing up under the shadow of a PKD, Polycystic Kidney Disease, which claimed numerous members of her immediate and extended family. PKD continues to affects 19 members of their family. In this show, Suzanne and her sister Joanne discuss how their family dealt with the threat of a terminal illness that could affect any of them. PKD is the most common life-threatening disease in the country. The disease causes kidneys to fail quickly and there are only two options for treatment: dialysis and kidney transplant. When Joanne collapsed from PKD herself, she was put on dialysis until a donor could be found. Suzanne was the best match for her sister’s kidney transplant, yet she was very resistant to donating her kidney to Joanne. The journey towards eventually agreeing to donate her kidney was filled with life-altering lessons and a deeper realization about the love she has for her sister.

Suzanne and Joanne share a few of the many “God-wink” incidents that seemed meant to be. Suzanne interpreted some of them as being ‘thin place’ signs from her mother and a beloved aunt who both have died. These events were very faith-affirming and helped Suzanne and Joanne cope with the fear and anxiety of living with a life-threatening illness. Suzanne now says “count every day is a blessing and cherish the ones you love.” Both women discuss the impact of their faith as the greatest gift their mother gave them and how their faith was strengthened after what both women went through during the transplant process. Suzanne helps us understand the miracle of organ donation, both from living and deceased organ donors. She tells how she prepared for the surgery by getting into excellent physical shape and this also helped her heal more quickly. She also prayed and elicited the support of friends around the country. Be inspired by this conversation between two loving sisters who shared a transformation experience of kidney donation. For more information, please visit