BUFFALO – There comes a time in every realtor’s career where the next deal, the next lockbox code, the next contract are no longer important.

In Wende Paas’ case, October 15, 2018, was that day.

Severe high blood pressure forced Lorie Busch, Wende’s 46-year-old sister, into Immediate Care and later to Erie County Medical Center with congestive heart and kidney failure.

Wende (left) and Lorie (right).

“Her lungs had filled up with fluid and her kidneys had failed,” Wende said. “And her blood pressure was at a level where it was a miracle she was still with us.”

After weeks at ECMC, Lorie could go home – except “home” was back to their parents’ house with critical medical equipment for her near-round the clock treatment and regular dialysis appointments – along with staggering medical bills.

“I saw her at my parents’ house, with all the equipment and the dialysis treatment and I just thought ‘Wow this is her life,’” she said. “Though we had a separate dynamic growing up, I felt like something had to be done to get my sister through this.”

The family began to discuss the most viable options toward Lorie’s full recovery – and kidney donation was atop the list.

“This started as somewhat of a joke, but that led to more of a serious thought,” Wende explained. “My husband and I had just scheduled a cruise to Bermuda the following May, and I said to Lorie, ‘I’ll give one of my kidneys if you watch our kids when we were gone.”

It became more than playful banter. In January, she began taking tests to see if she’d qualify as a donor for Lorie.

“The process is extensive. Lots of tests, paperwork and psychological exams,” she said. “They assigned me an advocate who was always on my side making sure I was physically and mentally healthy to donate.”

Wende’s advocate, Nicole Haseley, has become an extension of her family and is someone she remains in contact with.

After an eight-month process, Wende was approved as a donor match and she made the decision to donate her left kidney to her sister.

“A lot of signs pointed toward this being the right thing to do,” Wende explained. “Our brother was not a match and neither was my niece, Lorie’s daughter. So my faith and all the things I had been through in my past seemed to let me know this was something I was meant to do and this was what I needed to do to help my sister.”

On October 15, 2018, with Lorie in the next hospital bed over, Wende had her kidney removed and successfully transferred to her sister.

After surgery, Wende welcomes her kidney to its new home.

“I felt a little weak but I was still able to make all of my real estate appointments that week,” Wende laughed. “Lorie accepted my kidney right away and felt better after a short recovery period.”

One year later, Lorie is doing fantastic.

Through the last 12 months, she is back working with a full-time job on the horizon and has had her medication prescriptions reduced.

Since the procedure, Lorie and Wende’s bond has grown stronger and the two of them are now connected to a larger group of people beyond their expectations.

Wende and her two sons post-surgery.

“One of the things I’ve realized since the procedure is how many people and families have a similar story to Lorie and me,” Wende said. “I meet so many people working in real estate and many of them have been touched by this in some way. We’re now part of an even larger family, it seems.”

Wende credits the ECMC staff – especially her advocate Nicole — for making the process so thorough and easy. Her sister’s health would not be where it is today without their care.

WNY Metro Roberts appreciates its agents’ real estate successes, but is proud to associate with so many honorable, wholesome and selfless agents and staff.

For more information on the ECMC Advocacy for Donorship program, click here.