My dad with my sister in Ohio a few months ago

It’s my dad’s birthday and I thought I’d celebrate with a blog post about crochet that’s related to organ donation. That’s because my dad is a two-time transplant recipient. He received his new kidney about ten years ago and he received a new pancreas a few years later. It changed his life … and mine.

How I Didn’t Lose My Dad

I thought that I was going to lose my dad when I was 17. He had diabetes and had quite a few complications from it, the most life-threatening of which was the kidney failure. He got really, really sick. He had to go on peritoneal dialysis, which basically means that he had to pump liters of fluid into his stomach regularly. I won’t go into too much more detail about the whole thing since this isn’t a health blog but I will say that it takes a really, really long time for your name to come up on a transplant list – years. And those are years filled with sickness and weakness and you just really never know if your loved one is going to pull through it. I was 21 when my dad got his kidney transplant and his second chance at life. I will never be ready to lose my dad but I am definitely forever grateful to his organ donor and his transplant team for making sure it didn’t happen when my siblings and I were still only teenagers.

The Pancreas Transplant

The kidney transplant is what saved Dad’s life initially but later he also did a pancreas transplant. This is an amazing medical procedure that actually means he no longer has diabetes. After thirty years of taking insulin every day, he no longer has to do so. More importantly, it’s the diabetes that ruined his kidney in the first place so the pancreas transplant means a better chance for the new kidney.

On to the Crochet

Here are some people, causes and stories that relate to crocheting for organ donation and diabetes awareness:

Crochet Kidney Fundraiser

Barefoot JJ sells these amigurumi kidneys to raise money for her friend’s much-needed kidney and pancreas transplant. They’re $7 and 100% of the proceeds go to the cause.

Threads of Compassion

This is an organization that’s part of the Wisconsin Donor Network. They knit and crochet comfort shawls for the families of organ and tissue donors.

Crochet Heart Quilt

This crochet heart quilt was made by a kidney transplant patient named Penny Brown. It is part of the New England Organ Bank’s art exhibit. Brown learned to crochet in 1998 after her transplant and now crochets hats and blankets for another cause: premature babies in the hospital.

Wrapped In Hugs

At the 2010 Transplant Games (which is like The Olympics for transplant patients) all donor families received blankets that were knit or crocheted. The Gift of Life Donor Program aims to recreate this for its local ceremonies. They’re trying to collect 400 blankets by October 1st this year and will have additional deadlines for other events. They accept 30″ x 60″ crochet blanket donations.

Kelsey’s Kruzers

This cotton crochet hat is sold by Cotton Blossoms and 100% of the proceeds reportedly go to support a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Team. Do any of you know of diabetes-related organizations that accept crochet donations? I looked around but couldn’t find any.

Anyone Have Crochet Organ Patterns?

One of the things on my To-Do list is to crochet kidney and pancreas figures for the people in my dad’s transplant support group, which he goes to once a month. I haven’t yet found any good patterns for these items. Anyone know of any?! If it’s a pattern that you have to pay for I’d prefer a pattern where proceeds go in whole or part to a related cause.

Happy Birthday Dad!!


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


  1. Wow!! Happy Birthday to your dad! What a great day to celebrate him. =) So glad to hear that he was able to get those transplants and beat that diabetes!

    • Kathryn Reply

      Thanks so much @Mindy. He really enjoyed the post. :)

  2. Marie/Underground Crafter Reply

    Thanks for this post and for sharing the links to the various charitable crochet organizations and sellers who are donating proceeds.

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  7. crochetime Reply

    This is so amazing! My husband, John, is donating his kidney to a friend who has been on dialysis for three years after the kidney that his father donated to him, failed. John’s operation is on Tuesday. I was on the train to work this morning thinking that I would like to crochet a couple of kidneys, embroider them with a smiley face (exactely like Barefoot JJ’s) and add a piece of felt on the back with a Thank You note, to give to the surgeons and nurses. I’ve been doing my google search and came across your blogpost. How amazing?! I also haven’t found a kidney amigurimi pattern, but did find this link. I might give it a go and then write up a proper pattern.
    I hope you dad is still doing well. I will be blogging about John and Pieter on Tuesday as part of my regular Terrific Tuesday posts. (I’m very positive that it will be a teriffic day with a good outcome to both operations :-))
    I’m going to investigate the Transplant Games now.

    • CrochetBlogger Reply

      @crochetime Thank you so very much for sharing this. My father just celebrated his 60th birthday and ten years of his successful kidney transplant. I am forever grateful to the family of his donor for giving us this gift. What your husband is doing is an amazing thing and I wish both him and his friend the best! I’ll definitely keep an eye out for your post about it all.

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