Fresno talk show host gets kidney from teen suicide victim

Fresno radio talk show host Bill Manders went back on the air for the first time after undergoing a lifesaving kidney transplant.
March 31, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno radio talk show host Bill Manders went back on the air for the first time after undergoing a lifesaving kidney transplant three weeks ago, and it's the first thing he wanted to talk about.

"You know I've talked extensively on this program about having to go to dialysis, and that I was looking for a kidney so I didn't have to do that anymore," said Manders. "Well guess what? I don't have to do that anymore; I got a new kidney. I got a kidney from a 17-year-old girl."

The girl, Lexi Morris, a senior at Clovis East High School, went home from school one day and committed suicide. Lexi's father, Jason, told us how his wife, Amy, discovered her daughter's near-lifeless body and performed CPR -- restarting her heart, but she and paramedics were not able to bring her back.

"She was asking God, why did I do this and if she's not gonna live," he said. "When the donor people came in, we understood why that was and to save eight other people who were struggling, and it was eye-opening for us and at least gave us some comfort, that she was going to be able to help other people."

It was no accident Bill Manders received the kidney. He'd been talking about his need for a kidney transplant on his radio show, and Jason was a regular listener. He and his wife decided he should be a recipient. But such personal bequests are rare and Marcella Corona of the Transplant Donor Network says they don't usually work.

"It has to match up perfectly, so it's difficult," she said.

But in Manders' case, it was a perfect match. And now he's alive.

"I was in tears when I heard her story, but I would rather concentrate on the plusses in her life," said Manders. "She was smart, athletic, she has a great family, and I know she's there looking down on me, so I've got to honor her."

Manders says he will devote his efforts to encouraging organ donation. Marcella Corona says there are 900 people in the Central Valley waiting for various organs. There are 22,000 statewide, and more than 130,000 nationwide.

Manders also pledged to help Lexi's parents set up a foundation to improve mental health treatment and suicide prevention for teens.

Jason Morris told Action News his daughter had been hospitalized after previous suicide attempts but noted the lack of emergency psychiatric treatment in the Central Valley was a major problem for many families.


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