Mildred Sherman, left, will receive a kidney from her sister Sharon Adams next week.
ALBANY -- Sharon Adams is no stranger to the organ transplant process.
Until now, however, she has not undergone it herself. On Friday, at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, she will give a kidney to her sister.
Her older sister, Mildred Sherman, 46, has been on dialysis since September after going into renal failure. Not long after that, the process began to get her a new kidney.
Adams was not the first who volunteered to do it.
"My dad was going to do it, but we found out he had kidney cancer," Adams said. "We did not find that out until she went into renal failure.
"It's my sister, and I love her."
Adams has had experience with transplants before. Her daughter, who died after going into cardiac arrest at the age of 14 in 2004, underwent a heart transplant in 1999.
"Prayer and faith got me through it," she recalled of that experience.
With the surgery taking place Friday, both sisters will check into the hospital Thursday. Adams is expected to stay in the hospital two or three days, while Sherman will likely stay for seven days.
Once the surgery is over, Sherman is expected to see a full recovery, Adams said.
Having had experience with this kind of thing before, she has learned the hard way the true importance of organ transplants and the impacts they can have.
"I am so close to my sister," she said. "I would to anything for her. In 1999, we were in prayer for my daughter. Now we are in this situation again.
"(Organ transplants are important) so a person can have a normal life. My sister has been in so much pain. I couldn't stand to see her like that."
When asked what her counsel would be to those in a similar situation, Adams advised to "have faith, not fear."
"I would tell them to keep the faith. Have faith in God," she said. "She (Sherman) saved my dad's life. We would not have known he had cancer if she hadn't needed a kidney.
Her experience with the organ transplant process "has changed how I look at life and how I take care of my body," Adams said. "I watch what I eat and try to prevent high blood pressure."
A spokeswoman for the Georgia Transplant Foundation (GTF) said Thursday that, statewide, 12,070 people have been successfully transplanted to date and 3,464 people are currently awaiting transplants.
In September, GTF officials said there were more than 200 transplant recipients and 180 candidates residing in the Albany area. Updated figures were not available as of Friday.
On a national level, there were a total of 113,856 waiting list candidates as of 11 a.m. Friday, statistics from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) show. The same site showed that kidneys were the organ in highest demand, with 91,780 on the waiting list at that time.
The OPTN also breaks down statistics by individual transplant center. From Jan. 1, 1988 through Jan. 31, 2012, the five centers listed in Georgia -- including four in the Atlanta area and one in Augusta -- have performed a total of 7,538 kidney transplants.