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A Go West Mom You Should Know: Nurse and Organ Donor Merri Lazenby

This week is National Nurses Week (May 12 is Florence Nightingale’s birthday) and as luck would have it, our latest Go West Mom You Should Know is a nurse!

Merri Lazenby, 38, lives in St. Charles with her husband Wedge (as she quickly points out -- yes, that’s his real name) and their children: 10-year-old Wedge Jr., 5-year-old Jesse and 4-year-old Sidney.

Merri Lazenby pictured with her husband Wedge and children Wedge Jr. (10), Jesse (5), and Sidney (4). Photo provided.Lazenby is the clinical supervisor at Delnor Express Care centers in South Elgin and Batavia. Yes, Delnor Express Care is now a sponsor of Go West, but you’ll have to trust us the decision to feature Lazenby as a Mom You Should Know was made before that partnership occurred. And here’s why …

In addition to being a registered nurse, Lazenby is also a runner (she ran in her first marathon last fall) and a mother to an adopted child, who was abandoned in a Melrose Park backyard. She and her husband have been foster parents, and their oldest son copes with hearing loss.

You might have even spotted Lazenby last fall on billboards promoting the Chicago Marathon. She ran for Cal’s Angels, which provides support to kids fighting cancer and their families – a decision made after the young son of a co-worker was diagnosed with cancer.

Perhaps most unique, Lazenby is an organ donor. She donated her kidney in 2009 to a security guard at Delnor Hospital – when she started to fill out the paperwork, she didn’t even know his last name!

Lazenby grew up in East Peoria and moved to the Chicago suburbs when she was in the 7th grade. She received her BSN in nursing from Loyola University Chicago.

Read on to find out why we think Lazenby is a Go West Mom You Should Know.

Q. Can you tell me about your decision to donate a kidney to Delnor security guard Ray Andrade? What motivated you to donate an organ to someone you really did not know very well?

A. I was having lunch with a friend in the cafeteria at Delnor when I overheard a conversation my friend was having with Ray about his sister not being a match.  In my usual fashion I butted into the conversation and asked what kind of match he was looking for. 

When he told me he needed a kidney it was one of those moments when God just takes over and speaks for you. I told him God gave me two kidneys and I would share. Just like that.  I put no forethought into the offer ...  I think Ray just thought I was being nice and wasn't serious, which gave me time to think about the crazy offer. 

That night my husband and I were fixing dinner together, and he asked me how my day went.  I was a little afraid to tell him but casually mentioned I offered my kidney to someone at work. He laughed telling me it would be my luck to be a match. I waited a couple of weeks and went back to Ray.  I told him that I was serious about the kidney – a week later a packet came in the mail from Northwestern's transplant unit. The rest just kind of fell into place.  When I filled out the paperwork I didn't even know Ray's last name. I did a lot of research before I went back to him and realized we really don't need both kidneys to function normally, which made the decision to go through with it much easier.

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