‘I can’t stop crying:’ Kirkwood daughter secretly becomes her father’s kidney donor

A Missouri man has a shot at a longer life, thanks to his 25-year-old daughter who gave him her kidney. (Source: KMOV)
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 5:56 PM CST
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KIRKWOOD (KMOV) - Emotions on John Ivanowski’s face tell you everything he cannot describe.

“I can’t stop crying,” said John Ivanowski. “I mean I was upset but I’m so grateful.”

News 4 sat across from him and his daughter, Delayne, in their Kirkwood home just one day after coming home from the hospital.

“He goes, ‘I knew you were up to something.’ And I said, ‘Well I’m always up to something’,” said Delayne Ivanowski.

That “something” started brewing in Delayne Ivanowski’s mind more than a year ago, after doctors told her father he suffered from an Immunoglobulin A deficiency causing an overactive immune system that attacked his kidneys.

“From there it’s just been dialysis every couple of days since then. So, for over a year, he’s been hooked up to a machine for three four five hours a day. It’s not the right quality of life I don’t think anyone should have to live in.” she said. “So, then my first thought was, why can’t he just have my kidney right now.”

John was against it.

“I’m like, ‘You’re too young, you’ve got a long time to be here and my time’s limited’,” said John.

Delayne, however, had other ideas.

“I don’t even know how I got his coordinator’s phone number, and I reached out to her, and I was like, ‘Hey, how can I do this, when can we start’,” she said. “And then as soon as he was good enough basically for the transplant, they started running me through a bunch of tests.

“And you did all this without him knowing,” asked News 4.

“Yeah, he had no idea it was going on,” said Delanye.

Eight months of secrecy, leading to a heartfelt moment captured on camera on February 16, the day of John’s kidney transplant surgery. Delayne was in fact a match and had transferred a kidney to her dad.

“I didn’t find out until the day of surgery after we were post-op. She opened the door and came through and I was just like oh my lord,” said John.

The emotional moment also hit the hearts of millions across social media after Delayne posted the video on Tik-Tok. In it, she asked her followers to donate just a dollar to help with her family’s medical costs.

“They’ve already gone through so much. Dialysis isn’t’ cheap,” said Delayne. “I thought, why not reach out to social media, and I got a way bigger response than I ever was expecting to. I was so out of it too. My phone was sitting I remember on my bedside table and my boyfriend’s like, ‘What is going on. Turn your phone off’.”

John say he ultimately feels grateful his daughter took the plunge and became his donor.

“Not to be hooked up to the machine anymore and be able to do what I need to do or what I want to do, it’s just a big relief,” he said.

“If you are going to give a kidney, it is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give in the world. It’s literally like donating life,” said Delayne.