Congressional candidate donates kidney during campaign and Coronavirus pandemic

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Imagine getting major surgery during the pandemic while also waging a campaign for public office. Democratic candidate Dr. Kiani Gardner did just that. She donated a kidney to a stranger as what’s known as an “altruistic donor.”

You may have seen Kiani Gardner on stage just a few months ago during our Democratic primary debate. She had the surgery in late April and was recently readmitted to UAB after complications from the surgery. She’s back home and says she’s doing well.

“Really amazing really rewarding and it is kind of amazing to get a call saying you’re about to save someone’s life,” said Democratic Congressional candidate for Alabama’s first district Dr. Kiani Gardner during a recent interview over Zoom. The donation happened in April, in the tail end of Alabama’s pandemic shutdown. Gardner says it’s something that had been in the works for two years after being inspired to donate after hearing a friend’s story.

“If we have this capacity to give someone more time what’s more important than that?” said Gardner. Tyson Bell got her kidney. He lives in north Alabama and says the kidney adds years to his life and he’s forever grateful Gardner stepped up.

“If she was in my district I’d vote for her because we need more people like her with her kindness,” said Tyson Bell via FaceTime. Bell and Gardner share an organ and a bond.

“We sort of joke we’re friends we’re family now, but to know that he’s got more years with his kids and much less worry about his own health is really powerful,” said Gardner. Tyson Bell said he would have had an eight-year wait for a donor but because his wife also donated her kidney for a stranger he was paired with Gardner this spring.

“I think it’s strengthened our bond, I think it made me a more courageous less fearful person,” said Susannah Bell. Gardner says kidney donation is a meaningful way to impact someone’s life and donors should weigh that when considering major surgery.

Gardner made her first public appearance since the procedure this week taking part in a drive-up food distribution with Feeding the Gulf Coast. She has a runoff in July versus James Averhart for the Democratic nomination for Alabama’s First Congressional district. The winner faces either Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl or State Senator Bill Hightower in November’s general election.

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