Contributed
Jana Turner, left, stands with her liver donation recipient, Lori Rainwater, at their post-op appointment on Aug. 17, at UC Health in Denver, Colorado. 

Grant woman saves life of stranger through organ donation

“I am by far not a hero. In all honesty, I just felt that this is what I was supposed to do.”

That’s what Jana Turner says when telling her story of donating life to a complete stranger. 

Jana has been married for seven years to her husband Brent, and the couple has two young children. Their son Cole is 3, and daughter Hannah is just 1. Jana works for Banner Health and Brent is a farmer.

Jana said her “normal” life took a bit of a turn after a dream she had back in April. “I woke up the next morning and was making my bed and I just remember thinking ‘I gotta donate my organ.” 

Though she didn’t remember much from her dream, her definite take away was that she needed to donate.

Not able to escape this new desire to donate, she began searching Google, and came across a website for donating bone marrow and thought that might be the way to go. “It didn’t seem complicated so I started filling out the form,”she said. 

While she was completing some beginning documents to donate bone marrow, Jana said God stepped in to redirect her efforts.

A close friend and co-worker of Jana’s, who had no idea  about Jana’s dream, or her quest to donate, reached out to her. She was upset about a friend of hers, Lori Rainwater, whom Jana didn’t know, who was dying of liver failure as a result of Nash Syndrome. 

Come to find out, this “friend of a friend” shared Jana’s blood type. 

She had enough information after her conversation to really look into it, and she asked her husband Brent what he thought of her donating an organ, who responded “Whatever makes you happy.” Jana said, “He’s used to my crazy ideas.”

The pieces really began to fall together after Jana contacted UC Health, the hospital where Rainwater, Jana’s prospected recipient, was doctoring with a specialist. Recent changes in their donor program that allow altruistic donation (giving to someone with whom you had no prior connection), Jana’s first phase of testing results as well as her desire to follow the path that she had been put on all kept things moving in the right direction. 

Just a week into the process, it was time for Jana to decide if she wanted to proceed with phase two of her testing, which included two days at the hospital in Colorado. They would want to do a CT scan, X Ray and MRI to make sure Jana’s anatomy was similar to Lori’s. 

Jana said she took some time to really think about things and discuss things with Brent. The two talked in depth and researched what they could and thought of some questions to ask the doctors. It was a big decision and one Jana didn’t take lightly. She remembers telling her husband Brent, “I don’t know if I can do this, I got the kids, but I really feel like this is what I’m being pulled to do.”

Jana said there seemed to be little signs everywhere, the radio and commercials and stories she was hearing, telling her this was the right thing to do. 

And then she came across a saying that she had written down in her journal years before; “God designed you to meet the need of someone else in the world.” Jana said that stopped her in her tracks. Another sign, and a pretty significant one.

Continuing his support, Brent encouraged Jana to proceed with the second phase of testing and about a week after doing so, Jana received the phone call she had been waiting on, and the results of the tests were in. 

She was a match. She knew this was meant to be and she agreed to go ahead with the process, and donate 60 percent of her liver to Lori, the friend of a friend, whom she had never even met.

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