While most Kent State students were starting classes at the end of August, a 19-year-old sophomore was busy saving her father's life.

Maggie Martin, an interior design major from Stow, underwent surgery to remove her kidney in order to donate it to her 45-year-old father, Jamie, on Aug. 24.

Jamie Martin was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure and was told by doctors in November that it was time to consider going on the donor list. Maggie said she told her mom, Nancy, first of her desire to donate if the doctors declared her a match.

"Men don't like to talk about their feelings ever, so I figured I would be better to talk to her about it first and I also talked to my grandpa a lot because my grandpa went through a kidney transplant from his brother nine years ago," Maggie said.

The waiting list time is four to six years on average for a kidney, according to Maggie, who said she did a lot of research and worked with a transplant team consisting of a coordinator, a social worker, the surgeon and the doctor. Maggie underwent several tests and was cleared at the end of July to undergo the surgery.

She said the wait time for a kidney helped propel her decision, and surprised her dad.

"I think he didn't expect me to want to step up, I guess," she said. "My mom and dad wanted to make sure I was healthy enough before I could do it. I knew in the back of my mind though the wait is like three to five years at least and his function was lower than 10 percent."

She explained her father had been suffering from kidney problems for about 10 years with no apparent cause or family history. His doctors did not recommend dialysis because of the strain it would put on him and instead prescribed medication.

"I want my dad around the rest of my life, and I feel like I have two kidneys, why should I not?" she said. "You can live off three-fourths of a kidney and I have two so why shouldn't I give one away?"

Maggie's mom tested to be a donor as well, but because of high blood pressure was unable to be a candidate. A few cousins were also ruled out because of heart issues, Maggie said.

The two stayed a few days at the Cleveland Clinic, in separate rooms, but Maggie said she was able to see her father the Saturday evening after their Friday surgeries. She said she had some pain and discomfort but knowing she was helping her father helped get her through it.

Jamie is recovering at home. A Sept. 2 post on CaringBridge.org said that Jamie is following doctors orders "to a T" and Maggie said there are a lot more restrictions on him than are on her. Jamie has to weigh himself, take his blood pressure and temperature every morning, take anti-rejection medications as well as monitoring water intake, urine output and diet.

Meanwhile, one week post-surgery and Maggie is back in class at Kent State's main campus. She is taking a full course load this semester but said she didn't want to miss a semester due to the timing of how classes are offered. She said such a move would likely put her a year behind. Maggie also minors in dance and had to forgo the dance classes this semester because of the surgery but is taking 18 credit hours in her major. She has various restrictions on the amount of weight she can lift and she must drink one gallon of water per day. Still, she said she has no fear of living with one kidney.

"As far as I know they did all of the testing beforehand to make sure I don't have anything existing, so unless something would come up in my next 80ish years of life, I should be OK," Maggie said.

She added she was an organ donor on her license but she never thought she would be donating an organ so soon in her life. Now that she has, she said she encourages everyone to become a donor. She said while it may not be an optimum route while you are living, after death, an organ could go to one of many people on a waiting list. 

Reporter Briana Barker can be reached at 330-541-9432, bbarker@recordpub.com or @brianabarker1.