‘I can’t stop crying’: 25-year-old 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. 23, 2023 at 12:20 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KIRKWOOD, Mo. (KMOV/Gray News) – A Missouri man has a shot at a longer life, thanks to his 25-year-old daughter who gave him her kidney.

The priceless gift was something dad John Ivanowski did not see coming. His daughter, Delayne Ivanowski, kept it a secret until her dad woke up from his surgery and learned who his kidney donor was.

Emotions on John Ivanowski’s face tell you everything he cannot describe.

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

Delayne Ivanowski said her dad told her he knew that she was “up to something,” but didn’t realize how big that “something” was.

Delayne Ivanowski had the idea to become a kidney donor for her dad 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,” Delayne Ivanowski said. “So, then my first thought was, why can’t he just have my kidney right now?”

Her father, however, was against it. He didn’t want his daughter going through a major surgery for his sake.

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

His daughter, 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.”

Delayne Ivanowski was doing all the planning while her dad “had no idea it was going on,” she said.

As it turns out, Delayne Ivanowski was a match and would be able to donate a kidney to her father.

After eight months of secrecy, the day of the surgery arrived on Feb. 16.

The heartfelt moment of John Ivanowski learning his daughter was his kidney donor was caught on camera as he woke up in the hospital.

“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,’” he said.

The emotional moment also hit the hearts of millions across social media after Delayne Ivanowski posted the video on TikTok.

“Oh my god, are you kidding me?” John Ivanowski says through tears in the video as his daughter walks into his hospital room, also dressed in a surgical gown.

In her TikTok video, Delayne Ivanowski asked her followers to donate just $1 each to help with her family’s medical costs.

“They’ve already gone through so much. Dialysis isn’t cheap,” she said. “I thought, why not reach out to social media, and I got a way bigger response than I ever was expecting to.”

Although he never wanted his daughter to donate her kidney, John Ivanowski said 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.

Delayne Ivanowski said the experience will be an unforgettable one.

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