Daughter donates kidney, gives up honeymoon

MAYNARD -- A Maynard man has gained a whole new lease on life, thanks to his daughter's willingness to give up her kidney -- and her honeymoon to boot.

MAYNARD -- A Maynard man has gained a whole new lease on life, thanks to his daughter's willingness to give up her kidney -- and her honeymoon to boot.

David Hovda of rural Maynard and is daughter, newly-married Katherine Schwitters are recovering today at the Rochester Methodist Hospital after a successful kidney transplant on Thursday.

"I don't know how I can thank her enough,'' said David Hovda when reached by phone on Friday.

His daughter joked that she had a few ideas on how he might -- like buying her a new car -- but in truth Katherine Schwitters said she was just happy to be able to donate her kidney to her father.

"No hesitation,'' said Katherine, 23, of her decision.


David Hovda, 69, has been suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.

Hovda said his daughter accompanied him to a medical appointment in Willmar in June. She learned along with him that he would soon need to start a four-days-a-week regime of kidney dialysis, or he would die within a year.

His other option was to receive a kidney transplant, if a suitable donor could be found in time. When testing showed that Katherine was a good match, it only became a matter of scheduling.

Mindful of the urgency of her father's condition, Katherine said she initially offered to schedule the transplant before her July 26 wedding to Barry Schwitters. A nurse at the Mayo Clinic who was working with the father and daughter urged her to at least delay the transplant until after the wedding.

She agreed, but only by a few days. She and her new husband had no more than a 1½ -day honeymoon in the Twin Cities before she needed to report to Rochester.

Katherine said her husband has been very supportive of the decision, and was just as insistent as she was in scheduling the transplant as quickly as possible for her father's sake. Her husband is a rural Raymond native currently working with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's office.

The timing of the transplant should allow Katherine enough recovery time before she heads off to school this fall. She holds a bachelor's degree in organizational management from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but has returned to school to become a nurse. She will begin classes at the end of August at South Dakota State University, Brookings.

Along with feeling loads of gratitude to his daughter, David Hovda said he is also feeling fine for the first time in years. He said his disease has been so insidious he had not realized how far backward it had taken him.


"He just looks like a new man,'' said Ann Hovda of her husband's improvement. She described the transplant as the "gift of life.''

Father and daughter were re-united for the first time after the procedure on Friday, and there were both embraces and tears, they said.

The family's story was featured on KSTP -TV on Friday. Both father and daughter said they hope that their story will encourage others to give the gift of life.

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