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Kidney Transplant Match From Montana Saves San Diego Woman’s Life

Jung Kim had given up hope on a match until a donor aligned from halfway across the country

Bonny Perkins (left) of Montana successfully donated one of her kidney's to Jung Kim (right) of San Diego.

Living donor, Bonny Perkins (left) of Montana, and San Diego kidney transplant recipient, Jung Kim (right), share a post-op moment at Scripps Green Hospital.

Jung Kim had given up hope on a match until a donor aligned from halfway across the country

When hope feels lost, life can surprise us in unlikely ways. San Diego resident Jung Kim was hopeless: She needed a kidney transplant — desperately — and had been on the transplant list for more than a year. Since none of her family members were a match, her desperation and the direness of her condition grew more and more each day.  


But her hope paid off when a donor from Montana turned up in the waiting room at Scripps Green Hospital. 


Bonny Perkins had already decided to donate her kidney to a different Scripps Health patient when, unfortunately, final tests showed that she wasn’t a match for that other patient. Dedicated to her mission, instead of withdrawing herself as a live organ donor, Bonny decided to donate her kidney to someone else in the Scripps transplant program. Fortunately for Jung, Bonny turned out to be the right match.

The ‘angel’ who answered Jung’s prayers

The two women wouldn’t formally meet until days after the kidney transplant was complete. When their eyes met after the surgery, they soon realized they’d seen each other before — seated in the waiting room together just prior to surgery, neither one knowing the connection they’d eventually share.


Reflecting on their brief pre-op moment, Jung recalled whispering to her husband that Bonny looked like an angel. Little did she know that Bonny would impact her life in such a profound way.

Better health through kindness, compassion and expertise

Reflecting on their brief pre-op moment, Jung recalled whispering to her husband that Bonny looked like an angel. 

At any given time, nearly 600 patients in the Scripps network are waiting for a kidney transplant. As a result of Bonny’s selfless generosity Jung is one less patient on that list and on the road to better health. Which means one more life has been given the gift to continue and keep going — all made possible by a single act of kindness, and an expert medical team at the ready.


Whether it’s bringing two seemingly disparate lives together across vast distances or taking the quick action necessary to ensure that organ donors and recipients receive timely, optimal care, Scripps approaches every case with the highest level of determination and compassion.  


“We’re a big team and it takes a lot of work to help get our patients through the process, get them evaluated, listed and transplanted,” said Christopher Marsh, MD, chief of the Scripps Organ Transplantation Service. “And each time it happens, it’s thrilling.” 


For more than 20 years, Scripps has been at the forefront of expert medical care, providing lifesaving organ transplants and blood or bone marrow transplants. It’s also one of the premier transplant centers in southern California, developing San Diego’s first blood and bone marrow transplant (BMT) program in 1980, and was one of the nation’s first hospitals to administer bone marrow stem cell transplantation. Scripps Clinic also developed San Diego’s first liver transplant program in 1990.