Kidney donation turns Aitkin woman’s life around

Jon Paulsen & JoAnn Paulsen Guthmiller

April is Organ Donation Month, a great time to share a story about an Aitkin woman in need of a kidney and a brother who donated his kidney to her.

JoAnn Paulsen Guthmiller, mother to Riverwood’s Emergency Department Supervisor Kelsey Guthmiller, RN, shared comments on the awesome experience of getting her brother’s kidney.

“Who would have thought that 33 years ago when we said goodbye to my mom and donated her organs that it would come full circle! I needed a new kidney! My polycystic kidney disease was progressing, and my quality of life was deteriorating. Dialysis was approaching fast. My siblings started the testing process and my brother, Jon Paulsen, was a very, very close match! The date of March 21, 2023 was picked by my brother and surgery was scheduled at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Here it is April 5 and I feel better and stronger every day. I am excited to finally enjoy outings, even grocery shopping again!”

Nurse Practitioner Kathy Halbert, JoAnn Guthmiller’s Riverwood primary care provider, comments: “We are so pleased that JoAnn got a life-saving organ donation. On behalf of all of us at Riverwood, we extend our congratulations to the family with best wishes for good health for years to come! Thanks to all who register as organ donors.”

Organ donation is a generous, selfless gift. The donor’s legacy lives on when someone gets a second chance at life. One deceased donor can save up to eight lives, restore sight to two people and heal the lives of more than 75 people.

The need is great. More than 100,000 men, women and children in the United States await life-saving organ transplants. Approximately 42,000 organ transplants from 21,300 donors brought new life to patients and their families in 2022.

It’s easy to register to be an organ donor. Simply go to

You may also register to be a donor on your state ID card or driver’s license. Simply check the box on your application when renewing or applying at the license center or by mail. Minnesotans also have the opportunity to register as a donor when applying for their hunting and fishing license online.

Tell your family and friends about your decision to donate. View stories of those whose lives have been saved at

Living donation is another incredible way you can help save the life of someone waiting for an organ transplant by working directly with transplant centers. Through living donation, a living person can donate a kidney or part of the liver, lung, intestine or pancreas to another person in need of a transplant.

LifeSource is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest. They serve the 7 million people who live in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and portions of western Wisconsin. They deliver life-saving transplants and life-altering tissue to those in need. Learn more at