One Man's Generous Gift Starts Chain of Kidney Donations

May 14, 2018

When Michael Shelton, a banker from Eden, needed a kidney, his wife, Tamara, who is a teacher, didn’t think twice about donating one of hers. The only problem – she wasn’t a match.

Deanna Mitchell, the executive director of Donate Life North Carolina wanted to donate a kidney to James Brown of Winston-Salem, whose career as a pilot has been put on hold, but she wasn’t a match.

Then, Warren Nash, a grandfather from Norwich, N.Y., came into the picture.

He is friends with Amy Schlee, from nearby Oneonta, N.Y., who donated one of her kidneys in 2016 to two-year-old Hazel Niemitalo, of Trinity. Schlee did not know Hazel, but learned that she needed a kidney while watching the reality television show American Ninja Warrior, on which Hazel’s father, Kenny is a contestant.

Schlee’s selflessness deeply affected Nash who decided he wanted to give the same gift to someone in need, and a chain of kidney donations and transplants was started at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“I’ve lived a good life and my wife and I have done many things and have seen many places,” said Nash. “If I can help someone else live a fuller life and experience some of these things with their own family, that’s what life is all about.”

Nash – who last week traveled to Wake Forest Baptist for the surgery – donated one of his kidneys to Michael Shelton.

Shelton’s wife, Tamara, donated to pilot James Brown, and Deanna Mitchell donated to a recipient in Michigan, who has helped keep the chain going.

“Although chain donations are gaining in popularity, many people still do not know very much about them,” said Amber Reeves-Daniel, D.O., associate professor of nephrology and medical director of Wake Forest Baptist’s Abdominal Organ Transplant Program. “This incredible story illustrates how one person’s unselfish gift can positively impact so many people who they don’t even know.”

Wake Forest Baptist is the largest kidney transplant center in North Carolina, averaging around 160 kidney transplants a year.

Media Relations

Joe McCloskey:, 336-716-1273

Eryn Johnson:, 336-713-8228