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30 years later: Child of Wisconsin's first kidney transplant donor reflects on his life-changing surgery

Posted at 5:52 AM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 06:52:23-05

This month marks Carole Meekins' thirtieth year at TMJ4, so we thought it would be a great time to go into the vault and look at some of the most memorable people she's featured over the years.

One man who stood out was Henry Ray from Waukesha County. He was the first person in Wisconsin to be a kidney transplant donor, and was fearless in undergoing that pioneering surgery.

The year was 1958. Henry Ray wanted to save his twin brother's life.

"Any tests they needed to go through I said let's go. Blood tests, whatever it was, I was willing," says Ray.

Ray's twin brother lived 5 years after the operation. He survived long enough to have a child.

That child, Beverly Weber, is now an adult living in North Carolina. She came to Milwaukee to visit her family and stopped by the TMJ4 studios for a tour.

They had fun taking pictures in front of the camera, but behind the smiles was a serious message about organ donation.

Ray wants others to know you can do well living with one kidney. Ray is grateful that he was able to be there when his brother needed him the most.

"My wife and I have been extremely blessed with good health and raising our family," Ray says.

And Beverly Weber, Ray's niece, knows she's blessed to have life thanks to an uncle brave enough to risk his.

"Unfortunately, my father passed away when I was 3, yet the legacy continues," she says.

A memorial for Henry Ray was held October 8th in Pewaukee. He was 88 years old when he died.

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