Utah TSA employee donates kidney to save fellow officer


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – In the past 17 years that Tash Truscott has worked as an officer for the Transportation Security Administration at the Salt Lake City International Airport, he’s met millions of people with incredible stories to share. Now, he has his own to tell after one of his fellow officers donated her kidney and saved his life.

Each day in the United States, 20 people die while waiting for an organ transplant. It’s a sobering experience for more than 123,000 who are racing against time for a life-saving organ transplant.

“There were 26 people who got tested to see if they were a match for me. Towards the end of that point was when I started to get discouraged, not knowing how long it’s going to be. Time and time again, I had friends and family trying to help but they couldn’t,” said Truscott.

“It was a little emotional for me, actually,” said Mark Lewis, Federal Security Director of TSA Utah. “Tash had confided some of his health concerns with me. I knew the challenges he had faced.”

Truscott has been battling Primary Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSG), a kidney disease for nearly two decades. In October 2016, he was put on dialysis and placed on a transplant waiting list.

“There were a few days where I felt hopeless. But I’ve definitely always tried to be positive. That’s the big key,” he said.

Melanie Persaudmata, a fellow TSA officer who had worked with Truscott for eight years found out about his needs through his wife’s post on Facebook and decided to get tested. She found out she was a match and chose to move forward.

“My decision was based purely on faith. I had a lot of support from family and friends. Someone asked me, ‘What if in the future you need that kidney? What if all of a sudden the one you have left fails?’ I said, ‘Well, I hope someone would do the same thing for me,'” she said.

“Our employees in the State of Utah are public servants and that’s the way they view the job that they do every day. When I heard Melanie was willing to donate, it really touched me because it’s indicative of the people in our workforce,” said Lewis.

Persaudmata said the decision didn’t come easy because there were concerns about how her body would respond to the donation.

“I was told by my doctor how much harder it is for the donor than the recipient,” said Truscott.

“As a donor, you’re losing something your body was using. I was definitely nervous and scared because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how my body was going to handle it. But I knew it was the right thing to do,” said Persaudmata.

Despite concerns, she successfully donated one of her kidneys to Truscott in November of last year. Both faced some complications but were able to return to work months later.

“I wouldn’t pick a better person than Tash to give it to. He is an amazing man. He is an amazing father and husband. Working with him at the airport, I don’t think a lot of our coworkers even knew he was sick because he comes in every day with such a great attitude,” said Persaudmata.

“Life is so much better. At this point, if I didn’t have Mel, I’d still be doing dialysis every day and that only lasts so long. It is a blessing to actually be where I’m at. I love life a lot more,” said Truscott.

The experience has transformed their relationship from friendship to family.

“We call each other ‘the other half.’ Our spouses are definitely our better halves. But we’re definitely each other’s ‘other half.’ I will love her forever. She is an angel in my book. She will always be an angel,” said Truscott.

“We’re family now. We do parties together, get our kids together,” said Persaudmata. “It was definitely worth it. I would do it again tomorrow. If for reason, Tash’s liver starting failing, I’d give him part of my liver too.”

Both are doing well after their procedure. Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the donation. They hope that through sharing their story they can encourage others to give the gift of life and help save lives.

‘It’s the right thing to do for people. Like if you’re able to do and if you’re in the position to do it, I think you should do it,” said Persaudmata.


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