Dr. Hines and Heather together wearing their "Kidney Buddies for Life" matching shirts.

Medical Assistant Saves Doctor’s Life by Donating Her Kidney

Oct 15 2021

Dirk Hines, MD, was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Enter Heather Kouns, a medical assistant at Mercy Health Physicians Dry Ridge Family Medicine, which is also where Dr. Hines works. A perfect donor match was enough to make these two co-workers “Kidney Buddies for Life.”

Hear directly from Heather as she shared her thoughts on this experience prior to the transplant surgery.

A very dear friend and co-worker of mine is getting a new kidney soon! And what’s the best part, you ask? He’s getting mine!

If you know Dr. Hines, you know he is an incredible human. As a family doctor, he has helped his patients manage their health for over 20 years. However, little do people know that he has long suffered with his own health issues.

Dr. Hines has hereditary polycystic kidney disease. This condition causes polyps to form on otherwise healthy kidneys which then wreaks havoc on them. Dr. Hines has lived with this disease knowing one day he would need a kidney transplant. In late 2019/early 2020 this day came. He started to see a decrease in his kidney levels.

During an especially tough day for Dr. Hines at work, I decided to quietly sign up to see if I could be his donor. I found out I was a match, but I was told there were two other individuals who were better matches. However, the entire transplant process was put on hold because of the one and only COVID-19.

In June, I finally got the call to come in for some further testing. Then six days later, I was told that I was going to be Dr. Hines’ match. We both couldn’t believe it! I was literally speechless for the first time in my entire life.

I have been so blessed to work with Dr. Hines and learn from him over the last five years. On the first day that he announced he needed a kidney, 40 people applied to give him one. He is just so deserving. I could not be more excited that I get to be part of this process!

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we prepare for surgery and go through the recovery process. I have already been so incredibly blessed with support, so thank you to everyone who has already reached out. My heart is just so happy.

The transplant surgery for Heather and Dr. Hines took place on July 13, 2020 and went well. Today, both Heather and Dr. Hines are doing great! Heather just had her first year follow up and all her lab results were in range. Also, Dr. Hines’ new kidney function is in the goal range and has been stable. He now has more energy, too. 

Learn more about the health care services we offer at Mercy Health.

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Mary Revelee

So happy to hear Dr. Hines and Heather are doing fine. Love Dr. Hines and his staff.
August 07th, 2020 | 7:50pm

Nancy K. Welch

I had the pleasure of meeting Heather for the first time last month (although I’ve been going to that office for many years now). I was so surprised to find out that SHE was the one who gave a kidney to Dr. Hines! My husband and younger son are long-time patients of Dr. Hines, and were so glad to hear how well he is doing since the transplant. Heather is such a kind and caring young lady, and a wonderful asset to the Dry Ridge office.
February 25th, 2021 | 3:42pm


Best of luck to both of you, God is Good! :)
October 19th, 2021 | 3:43pm

Wendy H

I have been so lucky to work beside these 2 wonderful people!! I have been working with Dr Hines for 22 years and like Heather said, he is so deserving. He is one of the most caring providers you will ever meet. His empathy for others shows with everyone he cares for. I feel so blessed to have known him and worked beside him for so long. And to know Heather is to LOVE her. She has an amazing soul and never doubted what she was meant to do...Thank you Heather for saving our amazing provider and friend!! ❤❤
October 19th, 2021 | 11:15pm

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