Organ donation is only part of Indiana woman’s generosity

Lately FB friends are committing to a good-deeds pledge. The idea: do 5 unexpected acts of kindness over the next year. I just heard about someone who racks up 5 a day. And thinks nothing of it.

Recently, after golf, I had lunch with new friend Jan Korba. I sat shaking my head, muttering “incredible” over what she said about her sister.

Debbie Barton, of Evansville, IN, is #5 of 7 siblings. She raised 4 children and has 7 grandchildren. She works full time as a paralegal for the federal government. She teaches Sunday School and once a month organizes a committee to provide a Sunday meal for 75-100 needy people.

That would be enough for most of us to deem a full plate. Not Debbie. Until her mother-in-law passed away this past fall, Debbie visited the nursing home regularly to check on her. She also looks after her 90 year old parents. On Saturdays, this big-hearted whirling dervish picks up Jan’s 37 year old handicapped daughter Abbey and spends several hours with her. Abbey is nonverbal but ambulatory, must be fed and wears diapers.

Last October, Debbie stepped in again. This time to help the husband of her youngest sister, Michelle Brasher. Jeff, 52, was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease. This inherited disorder shows up in about 600,000 people in the U.S. and is a leading cause of kidney failure. John was put on the list for a transplant but warned it could take up to 10 years for a donor to be found. Until then he’d need dialysis.

Guess who volunteered to be tested. The rest of the family doubted Debbie would prove compatible, but she thought otherwise. She went through tests for blood type, HLA tissue type and cross-matching. She passed all three. Btw, Debbie doesn’t believe she “happened” to be a match. She believes everything, including her kidney, is part of God’s plan.

On December 30, 2014, at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, KY, John’s kidneys were removed and one of Debbie’s implanted. After, the surgeon came in to the waiting room. Who’s related to the donor? he asked. 21 hands shot up. Who’s related to the recipient? 21 hands shot up again.

When Debbie regained consciousness from the anesthesia, she asked what time it was. Informed it was after 3 pm, she said, “I wasted this day.”

Jan says, “This woman I proudly call my sister is also a dear friend.”

I have 2 friends, Denise and Joan, who are alive today thanks to generous organ donors. According to, 21 people die every day because no organ was available for transplant.

Thanks, Jan, for sharing your amazing sister. The world needs more Debbies.

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10 thoughts on “Organ donation is only part of Indiana woman’s generosity

  1. Michelle Brasher

    Thank you so much for doing this article about my sister Debbie. I am Jeff’s wife and so appreciate Debbie being willing to give Jeff a kidney. She is amazing and deserves recognition for being the person that she is. We love Debbie!

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, Michelle. If there were more Debbie’s in the world, there’d be fewer patients trying to hang on until organs were found. So glad you enjoyed the column.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Quite an amazing bunch. You’re lucky to be part of the family. So glad you appreciate them. Thanks for the note.

  2. Jan Korba

    Thank you so much Suzy for sharing my sister, Debbie!
    My brother in law, Jeff Brasher, is back in the hospital but should be okay with his new kidney.
    There really are several other things I could add to Debbie’s list of awesomeness but you covered some of them very nicely.
    I agree that the world could use more Debbies
    Thanks again for sharing her story.
    Jan K

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, Jan. I so appreciate your sharing your sister with my readers. You’re lucky to have her–and you clearly know it! Prayers go out to Jeff. God bless all of you.

    2. Kendra Rae Parson

      Jeff, Michelle, & I all grew up in church together; Debbie was my 5th grade Sunday School teacher. Both of these families are wonderful, giving, & loving. I am blessed to know them. God is so awesome; He had a spare kidney for Jeff waiting inside Debbie before Jeff was even born. Thank you Lord.

      1. Suzy Farbman Post author

        Well said, Kendra. These families confirm our belief in the goodness of mankind. Thanks for your comment.

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