UPDATE | Kanawha County Commission president gets life-saving gift from daughter

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 4/23/19 @ 9:30 p.m.
A father, who gave life to his daughter, has received that very gift now in return from her.

Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission, underwent surgery on April 13 for a kidney transplant. The donated kidney, came from his youngest daughter, Virginia.

Carper has been privately dealing with kidney issues now for about two years.

Carper says he went in for a routine physical one day with his doctor and there were some abnormalities in his blood work.

He says it was obvious he was dealing with severe complications with his kidneys. He eventually started going into kidney failure and was needing to get dialysis.

He later found out from his doctor that he was eligible for a kidney transplant.

His daughter, Virginia, says the family sat down together to talk about the health issues her father faced one day.

"I told my dad right then I'll give you my kidney," Virginia said. "But my dad and mom were adamant that I not, which I understood their concerns."

This easy decision for Virginia was not so easy for her father. However, she ended up going through a number of different tests to determine if she would be an eligible donor.

"I would call my dad to check in and I would say, 'Oh hey, guess what, our blood types match,' and he would say 'oh we aren't talking about that.'"

"Then I would say to him, 'Hey, I had that little MRI, everything is great,' and he just really wouldn't want to talk about it," said Virginia.

After some rigorous testing though, doctors determined that Virginia was a perfect match to donate her kidney to her dad.

"It was something I was definitely going to do from the beginning. My family didn't ask me to do it. It was just something I felt that I needed to do. I was just glad I was healthy enough to do it for my dad."

Carper had been on a waiting list when they were told that his daughter would be able to donate her kidney to him.

"Early on, I was asked was my decision emotional? Absolutely my decision was emotional," said Virginia. "It was absolutely emotional. My dad is a huge part of our family. He is a huge part of our community. He's my dad though and my son's grandfather and that is everything to me."

Both were out of the hospital in a couple days and are now recovering.

Carper credits the success of his surgery to the team at Charleston Area Medical Center. He says the team performs more than 60 transplants a year.

His daughter is now advocating for organ donation, urging others to become donors and help save lives.

"She is now wanting to help other people, Carper said. "She feels so passionate. There are so many people who are desperately waiting for a transplant. I am so grateful to my daughter, to my surgeon and to God."

"We are the lucky ones," said Virginia. "There are so many people that their lives are consumed with waiting, and dialysis, but by the grace of God, my dad is here. We are beyond blessed."

April is Organ Donation Awareness Month. If you are interested in becoming an organ donor, or would like to get more information, you can click on either of the links attached to this story.

UPDATE 4/18/19 @11:56 p.m.
During a time when many are focused on Resurrection, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he had new life thanks to his own daughter. Carper underwent life saving kidney transplant surgery last weekend at the Charleston Area Medical Center. His donated kidney came from his daughter Virginia.

“I’m so grateful to my physician, the excellent care I received, and to my youngest daughter, Virginia,” Carper said in an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.” “She donated her kidney to me.”

Virginia told MetroNews the decision for her was easy, the decision for her dad was much harder.

“We had a family discussion and I decided right then I would start the process of testing to be a living donor,” Virginia explained. “My dad is pretty hard headed and was 100 percent against me doing that. I’m just like my dad and I’m REALLY hard headed and I was 100 percent going to do it.”

He went on several waiting lists for a donor and spent two months on dialysis. When he revealed the health condition to his family was when Virginia began her crusade with a long battery of tests.

"I'm proud of my dad," she said. "He was a pretty tough guy through the dialysis and his diagnoses. It was amazing."

Both Virginia and the Commissioner lauded the work of Dr. Africa and the kidney transplant team at the Charleston Area Medical Center. According to the Commissioner the team performs about 60 transplants annually in Charleston and offers one of the most respected transplant units in the country.

"They're the best kept secret in West Virginia," he said.

Both father and daughter were out of the hospital within a few days and on the mend. The experience has given the Commissioner a new lease on life and for his daughter, given her a new mission to be an advocate for organ donation.

"It's absolutely the right thing to do," she said. "I had no idea how many people sit at home and just wait. Their whole life is consumed with the dialysis and waiting. That's just not something I could let my dad do."

Officials with the Kanawha County Commission say President Kent Carper will be back to business soon after a successful kidney transplant.

The commission says Carper underwent surgery on Saturday in Charleston after dealing with a 'significant illness involving his kidneys'.

The donation came from a close family friend who is being credited for saving Carper's life.

It is unknown how long Carper's recovery will take.

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