City of Carmel employee set to become living organ donor – again  


Four years ago, David McCartney donated one of his kidneys to a stranger, but his altruism didn’t end there.

Soon, he expects to donate approximately 70 percent of his liver to another person he doesn’t know, making him one of a select few in the U.S. to become a living kidney and liver donor.

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David McCartney competes in an ultramarathon to raise awareness of living organ donation. (Photo courtesy of David McCartney)

And, if that’s not enough, he’s done this while chasing a goal to run an ultramarathon in all 50 states to spread awareness about the importance of living organ donation. He’s completed in approximately 20 states so far, and he’s signed up for more – although he knows his surgery date, which is still to be determined, could alter his plans.

McCartney, 39, said the kidney donation didn’t slow him long-term, and he doesn’t expect the liver donation to do so, either.

“If you don’t overpush it and don’t lift more than you’re supposed to, the recovery is pretty cake,” he said. “Just pay attention to the ones who went to school who actually know what they’re talking about.”

McCartney, who lives near Crawfordsville, said the liver donation process has required more medical tests and appointments than the kidney donation, and he expects the recovery process to take a bit longer, too.

“When you do a kidney (donation), you really just need to know which is the best of the two so you can keep the best one. The other one goes to the recipient,” he said. “But with liver, you need to know where all the valves are and where all the ducts are at. It regenerates within six to 12 weeks, so in a year it’s like you never lost it.”

Because he expects to miss work for an extended time period, McCartney approached his employer – the City of Carmel – about adding paid leave for living donors to its benefits plan. At the March 20 Carmel City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved the policy, a late addition to the agenda, on first reading, in time for it to take effect before McCarntey’s donation.

McCartney, who works for the city’s street department, said the paid leave policy gives him additional peace of mind heading into the operation. In 2018, coworkers gave some of their vacation days to McCartney so he could take enough time off to fully recover from the kidney donation.

“If I want to take on this task myself, I should not be asking for someone else to help me, because maybe they don’t feel like I do about that,” McCartney said. “Now you don’t have that problem.”

City councilor Sue Finkam, who previously worked for the Indiana Donor Network, co-sponsored the ordinance with Councilor Tim Hannon. She said less than 1 percent of the city’s workforce is likely to ever make a living organ donation, so the financial impact to the city to add paid leave is minimal – but the impact on someone in need of a donation is huge.

“We didn’t want to have financials be the reason someone didn’t choose to donate to save a life,” she said.

McCartney said he was inspired to become a liver donor after meeting others at a conference who had made a kidney and liver donation. He describes himself as “purpose-driven” and feels if he’s going to encourage others to consider liver donation, it should be something he’s done himself.

“(After the donation), I can say I’ve done the work,” McCartney said. “Now I can spread the joy, as opposed to just spreading the joy without the work.”

Follow McCartney’s journey on Instagram: @Kidneyfarmer765. Learn more about organ donation at