WZPL's Nikki Reed undergoes successful surgery to donate kidney

Nikki Reed gives a thumbs up before heading into surgery. (WTHR/Anne Marie Tiernon)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — There are more than 1,000 people in Indiana waiting for a kidney.

But for one of them, that wait is over.

After months of mental and physical preparation, WZPL radio personality Nikki Reed had surgery and donated her kidney to a complete stranger.

WZPL's Nikki Reed donated her kidney on Monday, Feb. 3 (WTHR/Josh Blankenship)

"The most special thing about this is that one human being is taking on this risk entirely for the benefit of someone else," IU Health Transplant Surgeon Dr. John Powelson said.

Reed first got interested in kidney donation when preparing for a guest on the show, Michael Kaltenmark. He is the former handler for the Butler Bulldog mascot.

Nikki Reed is having a consultation with the transplant nurse coordinator. (WTHR/Josh Blankenship)

Last year, he made a public plea for a donor. Reed said she started researching what was involved in being a living donor, and when she learned more about it, hoped to be a match for Kaltenmark. Their blood types didn't match and ultimately, Kaltenmark's older brother was the donor for the successful kidney recovery and transplant surgery at IU Health University Hospital earlier this month.

Reed, however, felt inspired and decided to go ahead and donate a kidney to someone else. She started the intensive testing process in April of 2019. By December, she was matched with a recipient and a surgery date at IU Health was set.

"Sometimes something comes along in your life and there is just this burning feeling inside of you that says you are supposed to do this," Reed said.

Unfortunately, Reed got sick and the surgery was postponed until Feb. 3.

Nikki Reed getting the last few tests before surgery on Feb. 3. (WTHR/Josh Blankenship)

The last week in January, Reed underwent the last few tests before getting the "all clear" for Monday's surgery.

The morning of the surgery, Reed said she had received a lot of support from her friends and fans.

"It's surgery day! My kidney is onto its next journey in just about an hour!" Reed posted.


WTHR's Anne Marie Tiernon also shared a video of Reed right before surgery.

After five hours in the operating room, the surgery was complete and according to doctors, it went well.

Reed was alert and talking shortly after surgery. She said she was surprised at how good she felt.

"I don't know if great is the right word, but I feel good," Reed said in a video.

Reed posted an update on her Facebook page Tuesday morning, saying she's feeling super good and thanked everyone for the kind messages.

Reed said the doctor told her the person who received her kidney is recovering and "doing fabulous."

Facts about kidney transplants and donations

To learn more about becoming a living kidney donor, click here.

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