A Toddler's Life Saved: Strangers, Kidney Donation, and a Golden Voucher


May 4, 2023

A Toddler's Life Saved: Strangers, Kidney Donation, and a Golden Voucher

A Life-Changing Gift: Strangers Unite to Save a Toddler's Life Through Kidney Donation and a Golden Voucher

Throughout his initial two years, Cooper Thompson faced continuous challenges, as did his parents, Katie and Eric Thompson.

Katie Thompson, who learned to administer her son's dialysis after his birth with end-stage renal failure, remarked,

"Before he was born, I didn't know I'd become a nurse with a business degree."

However, Cooper's ongoing treatments and uncertain future ended thanks to unexpected help from strangers two months ago.

The Donor

When 27-year-old Ali Hansen decided to become a living donor, she knew she would change someone's life. Despite working at the Iowa Donor Network during college and understanding the need for organs, she never anticipated giving her kidney to someone like Cooper. Ali remarked,

"It's kind of surreal knowing that he has my kidney. When they told me it was going to a 2-year-old boy, I was like, 'I don't know how that works.'"

Ali was unaware that her donation was made possible by yet another stranger living hundreds of miles away.

The Voucher

Lynn Scotch from Madison, Wisconsin, discovered Cooper's need for a kidney through a Facebook page Katie created to share her son's story. Lynn contacted Katie to inform her that she was donating her kidney to a matched stranger in Wisconsin and wanted to give a National Kidney Registry voucher to Cooper. This voucher allowed him to become the highest priority on the living donor waiting list. Katie admitted,

"We had no clue the vouchers existed. They had to explain it to me and I just kept thinking, Willy Wonka and they were giving him the (golden) ticket."

The Surgery

A month after receiving the voucher, Cooper found a nearby match. On March 2, Ali's kidney was removed at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center and transported half a mile to M Health Fairview Masonic Children's Hospital, where Cooper successfully received the transplant.

"Ever since the transplant, he's been a different kid; He's sleeping better, more talkative. Way more energy." - Eric Thompson (Cooper's Dad)

The Meeting

Following the surgery, NBC arranged for Cooper and his parents to surprise Lynn Scotch on the Today Show in New York City. Lynn revealed she gave Cooper the voucher in honor of her son, who passed away at age 2. Lynn stated,

"It's really full circle for me; I say it's redemptive healing because I carried that stone of regret that we were never able to donate his organs at the time. And so that regret is gone."

Ali met Cooper for the first time a few days later, and the families discovered they live only 15 minutes apart.

"It's shocking, I can't believe she is so close. I'm excited to see how their relationship grows. I've thought about it so many times and how I could describe it and I truly can't. When there's something so big and you're told that you can't save your own child, and then you find out that multiple people are willing to do it, with them getting nothing in return. It just makes you feel so good about people... that they would want to do something to change my child. It's unreal." - Katie Thompson (Cooper's Mom)

Doctors believe Ali's kidney could support Cooper for up to 30 years. Eric plans to donate his kidney to a stranger in the coming months and use his voucher for Cooper when needed. He credits Ali, Lynn, and many others for inspiring him.

"I want people to know it's really not that bad; I just want to inspire other people to donate, or at least be an organ donor. It's something that's really important to a lot of people. There's so many people on the waiting list." -- Ali Hansen

Below is the reunion with the donors and the recipients on the Today Show.

How to Get Involved

If you are inspired to save a life and donate a kidney, you can find out how to do so in this article.

Related Articles

How to Become a Kidney Donor

How Organ Donation and Transplantation Works

What is Dialysis?


Donor voucher from Wisconsin connects Minnesota boy to a kidney next door

About the Author

Rich Foreman brings over 30 years of technology leadership to his role of CEO and Co-Founder of KidneySoft.  As founding CTO, Rich led the team that developed the CordicoShield / CordicoFire Wellness App. Cordico was honored with the Sacramento Innovation Award in 2021. After achieving a 7 digit ARR, Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020. Rich has a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington, an MPA from Troy State University and was an officer in the U.S. Navy. Rich co-authored his book, "Tap into the Mobile Economy." Rich's blog was listed in Top 20 Marketing Mobile Blogs of 2014. He has been featured on KCRA3, NEWS10, 1170 Tech AM PowerDrive, Business Radio Money 105.5, SiliconIndia, the Sacramento Business Journal, and the Sacramento Bee. Rich is also the Founding Director of the Sacramento Chapter of Startup Grind and served a term as Utility Commissioner for the City of Folsom. Rich is a regular contributor to TechWire.net and StartupSac. Rich was the Co-founder of Apptology which was named Small Business of the Year in 2014 by the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber. He was also the Founding Chief Technology Officer at Cordico. Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020.  Rich also served 4 years as a Naval Officer in the Civil Engineer Corps.

Patient Education Disclaimer

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the advice or counsel of a doctor or health care professional. KidneyLuv makes every effort to provide information that is accurate and timely, but makes no guarantee in this regard. You should consult with, and rely only on the advice of, your physician or health care professional.

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