SULLIVAN, IL – Mother’s Day has special significance at 1019 S. Washington St. in Sullivan.
Linda Qualls is recuperating from a kidney transplant operation April 8 in Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. The kidney was donated by her 20-year-old daughter, Michala Qualls.
Linda Qualls is recuperating, feeling better every day. She intends to resume working, perhaps this week, in the law office of Wood and Mayberry. Before the operation, she endured nine hours of dialysis each night for the past seven years.
“I’m thankful for Michala; she’s very special,” her mom said. “It is indeed the greatest gift a child could give a mother – the gift of life.” According to research statistics, living donor transplants function for an average of 15 to 20 years.
Michala Qualls works in branch operations for First Mid-Illinois Bank and is enrolled at Lake Land College. “She’s my mom, and anyone out there would do the same for their mom,” she said. “I did what I did because I want her to be here for a long time. I want her to be here to see us kids get married and have kids.
“I was ready to see her live a normal life, not hooked up to a machine every night. That’s hard to watch.
“And to see the change we’ve seen already only makes me happier that I did what I did. I’d do it again in a heartbeat because I love her.”
Michala Qualls went through a number of tests, including many blood tests, before the surgery to be sure she was healthy. The transplant operation took about four hours, Linda Qualls said. Linda Qualls was hospitalized for a week, her daughter was hospitalized for three days.
For Linda Qualls, living with one kidney is simply business as usual.
Linda Qualls, 45, originally from Decatur, has had kidney problems for most of her life. “One of my kidneys was removed when I was a baby,” she said. “I’ve had lots of infections. I went on the transplant list in 2001. I had a transplant in 2003, and it was rejected and then removed.
“Michala has wanted to do this for quite a while. The hospital in Springfield said she would have to be 21 to do this. Finally, I got a call from Barnes Hospital. Michala was declared OK. She didn’t hesitate,” Linda Qualls said.
“We both wore teardrop necklaces in remembrance of my sister, Shelly, who had been cleared to give me a kidney for transplant. Before it could happen, she got sick and died in 2005. Shelly was our angel this time,” she added.
Linda Qualls and her husband, Art, supervisor of maintenance for the Sullivan School District, also have two sons, Michael, an Eastern Illinois University student, and Josh, 25. “I couldn’t have done this without the support of my husband,” Linda Qualls said. “And my workplace people have been very supportive.
“If anyone is interested in giving the gift of life to a stranger, they can call any hospital that does transplants or they can go on the Web site matchingdonors.com to see if they can help anyone on the list.”