Navigate Up
Living Donation

Chuck Lutz and Virginia Kerschbaumer: Living-Donor Kidney Transplant Story

Kidney Transplant donor Virginia Kershbaumer and organ recipient and brother Charkles Lutz | Living Donor Kidney Transplant Donor Story

The Challenge: Chuck's Kidney Failure

Virginia Kerschbaumer and her older brother, Chuck Lutz, have always been close. Growing up, they looked after one another and remain close friends even as adults.

But, in March 2015, Chuck learned that his kidneys were failing, and he would need a transplant. He needed his sister more than ever.

“It all happened really sudden,” remembers Chuck. “It started in March, and by October, I was being placed on dialysis.”

The Path to Living Donation at UPMC Hamot

Shortly after, Chuck's care team at the UPMC Hamot Kidney Transplant Program placed him on the transplant waiting list.

UPMC Hamot is the first and only transplant center in the Erie region offering life-saving kidney transplants. The Hamot transplant team works closely with UPMC's Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program of the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute in Pittsburgh.

Since 1988, UPMC surgeons have performed more than 4,200 kidney transplants and 1,000 living-donor kidney transplants.

While Chuck knew that living donor transplants were possible, he was hesitant. He didn't want to put anyone in his family at risk by asking them to be his donor.

But, when he called Virgina and told her the news, she had other plans.

“As soon as I found out, I said that I would go get testing,” says Virginia. “I just had a gut feeling that we would be a match.”

During a living–donor kidney transplant, transplant surgeons remove a healthy kidney from a living person. Then they transplant the healthy kidney into a person with a failing kidney.

With 96,000 people in the United States on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, living donation helps reduce organ shortage.

One of the many benefits of living donor transplants is that patients can have the transplant sooner before they get too sick.

The Solution: A Living-Donor Kidney Transplant

With a physically demanding job and two children, Virginia’s decision to donate was not one she took lightly. She knew she would need time off from work and the support of her family.

But, she felt that saving her brother was too important and decided to discuss the transplant with her daughters.

“My kids and I sat down and had a serious family talk. My husband had passed away shortly before, so they were very worried about me. But I told them that everything would be alright and that I had to do this for him,” says Virginia.

With the support of her family, Virginia had an extensive transplant evaluation and was a perfect match for her brother.

Just a few weeks later, on Aug. 11, 2016, Chuck and Virginia had a living-donor kidney transplant.

Because her surgery was minimally invasive, Virginia went home within just a few days. And she went back to work after about eight weeks.

The Results: Looking Forward to Hitting the Road Again

Today Chuck and Virginia are both doing well.

As a truck driver, Chuck is looking forward to heading back to work and hitting the road soon. He's very grateful for his sister and her choice to be his living donor.

“Thankfully she was there and willing to do this for me. I don’t know where I would be without her,” says Chuck.

Chuck and Virginia agree that more people need to be aware of living-donor transplants. And what it truly means to be a living donor.

“I would do it again for someone else if I could,” says Virginia. “If you have the ability to help someone else out, I think you need to do it.”

Chuck and Virginia’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

Learn More about Living-Donor Kidney Transplant

UPMC HealthBeat Blog:

UPMC Transplant Services:

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |