A Missouri woman has risked her father’s wrath by becoming his kidney donor after keeping the secret for eight months while he underwent frequent dialysis.
Nurse Delayne Ivanowski, 25, was determined to give her 60-year-old dad, John, a better quality of life after he was diagnosed with an immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency, which saw his immune system attack his kidneys, more than a year ago.
The deficiency means a person has low levels or no IgA, an antibody part of the immune system, in their blood, and this could lead to autoimmune issues, which can cause the immune system to turn on their body, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
John was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, a kidney disease that sees IgA build up in the organ. It can lead to kidney failure.
Nurse Delayne Ivanowski (left), 25, was determined to donate her kidney to her 60-year-old dad, John (right), to give him a better quality of life
The emotional moment Delayne told her father she was his ‘anonymous’ kidney donor has gone viral. In the TikTok video, viewed by millions, he is seen breaking down in tears
It saw him spent up to five hours a day, four days a week on kidney dialysis for more than a year, Delayne, who is from Kirkwood which is just outside of St Louis, told local news outlet KMOV4.
John had lost his son and Delayne’s only sibling to cancer 16 years ago, and was resistant to his daughter becoming his kidney donor.
‘I thought, I lost my boy and if anything happened to Delayne, I don’t know what I would do,’ he told ABC News, adding: ‘It was a big concern.’
But the 25-year-old was determined to give her father her kidney even without his blessing because it could have been years before he would get a new organ if she didn’t volunteer her own.
‘He likes to walk my dog and run with my dog and he wants to do all this stuff, but now he’s hooked up to a machine,’ she said.
‘I don’t think that’s any way that anybody should have to live.’
Delayne added: ‘I was like, “I’m going to do it. I don’t care how mad he is at me. I don’t care if he kicks me out of the house or hates me or doesn’t say a word to me for the rest of my life.”
‘At least he’ll be living a good life and not hooked up to a machine.’
The video begins with the 25-year-old walking into her dad’s hospital with an IV drip in tow (left), and John is overcome with emotion (right) as he realizes what she had done for him
The father and daughter speaking to KMOV4 following the life-saving surgery
So she secretly went through the months-long approval process to become her dad’s kidney donor, which meant getting endless medical tests, and fielding dozens of calls with social workers and medical staff, all while living under her parents’ roof.
In August, John finally got the call the family had been waiting for: they had found him a donor.
‘They called me at work and said, “We’ve got an anonymous donor,” and I about dropped the phone and thought are you kidding me?’ he told ABC News.
‘People can be on the [kidney waiting] list for five, six, seven, eight years and go through dialysis for that long, and I just couldn’t believe it.’
Delayne added: ‘I was like, “I’m going to do it. I don’t care how mad he is at me. I don’t care if he kicks me out of the house or hates me or doesn’t say a word to me for the rest of my life”
So she secretly went through the months-long approval process to become her dad’s kidney donor. Delayne is pictured here in hospital
The nurse shows off her scar following the surgery. Her dad was resistant to her donating her kidney to him
If she hadn’t donated her kidney, John could have been waiting for years for a transplant
John underwent his surgery at Washington University And Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center in St Louis, with hospital staff working hard to keep Delayne’s secret.
IgA deficiency: The life-threatening condition that can see the immune system attack its own body
Having an immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency means a person has low levels or no IgA in their blood.
It can lead to autoimmune issues, which can cause the immune system to attack its own body.
IgA is an ‘antibody that’s part of your immune system’ and it’s found in mucous membranes as well as saliva, tears and breastmilk, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The deficiency is a genetic condition that can be passed down through a family member in about one in five cases.
But in rare cases, it can be caused by medicines a person is taking.
Jason Wellen, who is the center’s kidney and pancreas transplant surgical director and John’s doctor, said the staff had to do a lot of ‘behind-the-scenes’ work to make sure the father and daughter were kept in separate pre-op areas, and had to ensure they didn’t spot each other in post-op as well to maintain secrecy until Delayne was ready to break the news to John.
And when she did, John broke down in tears.
Filming the emotional moment she walked into her dad’s hospital room hooked up to an IV drip after the surgery, John immediately knew what had happened without Delayne saying a word.
‘Oh my God. Are you kidding me?’ he says in the video, which was posted to TikTok and has been viewed more than four million times.
John then looks over at his wife in shock before being overcome with emotion and starts sobbing in his chair.
Delayne tries to soothe him by reassuring him it is okay.
He collects himself and says: ‘I knew you were up to something.’
‘I’m always up to something,’ is her cheeky response.
In the overlaid text on her video, Delayne wrote: ‘If 6,000 people Venmoed me $1, I could cover the cost for my kidney transplant for my dad.’
Despite initially being ‘upset,’ John said he was grateful for his daughter’s selfless act and it was a ‘big relief’ not to be ‘hooked up to the machine anymore.’
‘I can’t stop crying,’ he added.
At the time of writing, just over 104,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant, according to the United Network For Organ Sharing.