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How One Kidney Donation Started a Chain Reaction

One person's life-saving generosity inspires five others

Thrivent member

Zully Broussard says she's always tried to "do the right thing, even when no one's looking." But when her voluntary kidney donation to a complete stranger led to five more kidney donations, people across the nation turned to see the woman who started it all.

The 55-year-old California woman and Thrivent member originally tested to be a donor – and was a match – for a close friend. When a much-needed kidney from a deceased donor became a faster option for her friend, Broussard still wanted to save a life.

"I was already so far into the process," Broussard says. "I knew there'd be risks. ...The recipient could reject my kidney and something could happen to me, but I also knew to keep my faith."

Unknown to Broussard at the time, five additional kidney recipients would be blessed by her donation. The sister-in-law of Broussard's recipient also donated her kidney to a stranger, whose son then chose to be a donor for a stranger.

The donations continued, adding up to six donors helping six patients – the largest kidney donation chain in the California Pacific Medical Center's 44-year history. Local and national media outlets covered the story.

Since her surgery, Broussard has returned to her job as a psychiatric nurse at a local prison. She's also started running again, already back to a five-mile distance.  

While Broussard believes she made the right decision, it still came with financial and emotional tolls. She incurred expenses from the trips from her Fair Oaks, California, home to the medical center in San Francisco and time off during her recovery. And she still struggled with the deaths of her husband in 2013 and son in 2002.

But then Broussard met the recipient of her kidney, a 26-year-old man with a young daughter.

"He came up to me and said, 'Thank you. Now I can play with my little girl,'" Broussard recalls. "The happiness I felt couldn’t fit inside my body."

Helping others can be easier than you think. Here are four simple acts of kindness that will take just a few moments of your time.

Learn how organizing a Thrivent Action Team can help you make a difference, whether in your local community or around the world.

Find out more about Thrivent Financial.

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