USM athlete takes leave to donate kidney to her father

11:51 PM, Feb 11, 2014   |    comments
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GORHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Demi Ruder has made has given up a lot throughout her volleyball career. But that pales in comparison to the sacrfice she's about to give to her dad.

The sophomore at the University of Southern Maine will donate a kidney to her father Michael. Last May he was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, an autoimmune disease that causes kidney failure.

After hearing about the diagnosis, the Colorado native decided to go through the testing to see if she was match without him knowing.

"I finally told him I was in the process and that he didn't have any say in it" Demi said.

Not long after she revealed her intention to give him one of her kidneys, she received a phone call to confirm her test results: she was a match.

"It was one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had, definitely. I was on my way to work and I started bawling and I had to pull over and everything. And I called my dad and he started crying and I haven't heard my dad cry in years," she said.

Her friend and teammate for the past two years, Megan Nilson, knew about Demi's situation before most on the team.

"It takes a true person to give something up like that," she said.

Fellow teammate, Biddeford alum Nicole Hansen, was just as envious of her willingness to help her father with the transplant.

"It makes me hope that someday I can do something that great too," she said.

For all the praise, Ruder thinks it's a decision that doesn't require much second-guessing.

"I feel like anyone in my position would do this," she said.

Her surgery is scheduled for Thursday. She's taken a leave of school to recover for two weeks at home in Colorado. If everything goes well, Ruder expect to rejoin the USM volleyball team by April.

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