Kathryn Menzia: Co-Founder of The Kidney Exchange Connection
Hello! My name is Kate Menzia. Today, Montana is my home, but I was born in North-Central South Dakota, growing up on the northern plains of the United States. Since 1980, I have worked with various disabled populations such as, the intellectually challenged, emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, homeless veterans, and injured workers. In 1990 I graduated with a Master of Science degree in rehabilitation counseling from Montana State University in Billings, MT.
Over my many years of experience and education in the above fields, my interest in kidney disease came about in 2006 when Gary Smith called me one day out of the blue. He was my financial advisor at the time, but called telling me he had given a kidney to another individual. At the time, I was living near Seattle, WA and Gary called me from Swedish Hospital informing me of the paired transplantation, of which he donated a kidney.
Intrigued with Gary’s story, I began researching kidney disease and its related issues. I became aware of ways as to how to serve those who are in need of a kidney. Passionately, I delved further into my research and came to believe this service would not only change lives but would save lives.
As Gary Smith and I discussed options to help others, our passion and vision led us to develop The Kidney Exchange Connection, a non-profit organization which enables those in need of a new kidney to connect with those who wished to give a kidney.
My greatest wish for this organization is that it can help alleviate the stress, fear, and confusion of kidney disease and transplants. One never knows what the future holds. One day I may stand with you, rejoicing in the gift of life! This is the best blessing and reward I could ever receive.