Damon Lambert, a courageous Army veteran of the Persian Gulf War, faced an unforeseen health crisis in 2008. Within five years, he was grappling with full kidney failure at just 42 years old, a young father facing an uncertain future. His sister, Amanda Houlton, shared an exceptionally close bond with him, a relationship that epitomized sibling love and support in times of need.
The National Kidney Waitlist and a Sister's Sacrifice
As Damon's health deteriorated, he found himself on the National Kidney Waitlist, desperately seeking a kidney transplant. Amanda, ever the devoted sister, underwent testing and was identified as a perfect match for Damon. This discovery offered a glimmer of hope to the family, a chance for Damon to regain his health and life.
Tragedy Strikes: Loss and Despair
However, fate had other plans. Damon's condition had progressed too far, and he tragically passed away in 2018 at 47, leaving his family in profound grief. Their mother, Helen Mayrie Lambert, succumbed to a broken heart just three months later. This series of devastating losses left Amanda reeling, questioning her faith and grappling with anger and disbelief.
A Divine Call to Action
In 2022, Amanda experienced a life-changing moment. Lying in bed one night, she heard a voice urging her to donate her kidney. This mysterious voice, which she believed to be divine, redirected her to donate specifically to a veteran. This pivotal moment led her to DOVE – Donor Outreach for Veterans Corps, an organization dedicated to assisting veterans in need of kidney transplants.
DOVE: A Beacon of Hope - Transplants That Save Veterans
Founded in 2020 by Sharyn Kreitzer, DOVE emerged from a need to address the disparity in kidney transplants for veterans. Despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the organization has made significant strides in saving the lives of veterans, highlighting the critical need for living donors.
A Fateful Meeting and a Life-Changing Transplant
Amanda's journey with DOVE culminated in her meeting with Retired Army Lt. Colonel David Hardaway, the recipient of her kidney. On February 22, 2023, their transplant operation marked a turning point in both their lives. Amanda found solace and a renewed sense of purpose, while David received a precious gift that extended his life.
Spiritual Reawakening and Damon's Legacy
In a profound experience in the recovery room, Amanda felt her late brother's presence, affirming her belief that her act of donation was not just a medical procedure but a spiritual journey. She realized that her decision to donate her kidney to David was a continuation of Damon's legacy, a way to honor his memory and impact lives positively.
The Impact of DOVE
DOVE's mission is to make veterans a priority in kidney transplants, recognizing the sacrifices they have made for their country. The organization works tirelessly with VA hospitals across the U.S. to facilitate transplants for veterans, aiming to alleviate the burden on donors and recipients by handling all details and expenses.
A Call to Action: Be a Living Donor
Amanda's story is a poignant reminder of the power of compassion and the difference one person can make in the lives of others, particularly veterans who have served their country. It underscores the importance of living kidney donation and the vital role organizations like DOVE play in connecting donors with recipients.
A Legacy of Love and Hope
Amanda Houlton's journey, marked by loss, spiritual reawakening, and selfless giving, highlights the transformative power of organ donation. Her story, interwoven with the mission of DOVE, serves as a beacon of hope and a call to action for those willing to be someone’s hero through living kidney donation.
Get Involved with DOVE
To learn more about how you can contribute to this noble cause, visit dovetransplant.org or call 551-449-8319. Your decision to become a living donor can change lives, honor the sacrifices of veterans, and continue the legacy of individuals like Damon Lambert and Amanda Houlton. If donation is not for you medically or spiritually, you can still help by donating money, or serving as a champion for a US Veteran by sharing their story.
Donor Outreach for Veterans (DOVE) is a 501c3 organization founded by an experienced and dedicated group of transplant professionals. DOVE seeks to improve access to living kidney transplantation for veterans by facilitating individual and community donor outreach campaigns and providing education, advocacy and support to all donors. For more information visit DOVE.