University Hospitals Employee Offers to Donate Kidney within Ten Minutes of Meeting Patient in Need

Erika Hosey, a cardiovascular technician at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, ended the year by giving a life-changing gift to a patient in need. While performing a routine cardiac stress test, she drummed up a conversation. She learned that her patient, Denise Butvin, had kidney disease and needed transplant surgery.

“Erika just blurted out…I’ll give you my kidney,” said Butvin. “I was in shock. I couldn’t believe this was real.”

While Butvin is a positive person, she has been through an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs and on waitlists in Ohio and Pennsylvania for five years. Her family and friends were not an organ match. Both her sister and father were on dialysis for many years and passed away from kidney disease, so she knew how pressing this transplant surgery was.

Hosey started the process the next day, and after a few weeks of testing turned out to be a perfect donor match. “To be a kidney donor match for someone is really a shot in the dark,” she said. “I felt like I was meant to be in that position, in that room with Denise. We talked about our family life and health struggles, and I connected with her in a way I haven’t connected with anyone else.” “When I got home from work that day, I told my husband ‘I think I just gave away my kidney!’” Hosey reminisced. “I believe we’re all put here to help people and we shouldn’t shy away from tough situations just because we’re nervous.”

Hosey comes from a supportive family of organ donors and recipients. Her husband donated bone marrow to his father, and her mother received a cornea transplant.

A resident of Akron-Canton, Hosey not only changed a patient’s life with her generous offer but was able to make a life change of her own. She took up running last year to get into shape, and now wakes up each morning at 4 a.m. to exercise. She would not have been healthy enough to offer to donate her kidney a year ago. “I’m glad I’m now at a healthy point in my life and I can give back,” she added.

Butvin lives in South Euclid and loves to give back to the community. She regularly volunteers at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the Cleveland Kosher Pantry. She said she’s not used to being on the receiving end of such generosity. “Erika is truly my angel,” she remarked. 

When people ask Hosey why she donated an organ to a friend who was a complete stranger just a few months ago, her answer is always ‘Why wouldn’t I!?’ She hopes her 8- and 10-year-old children learn to always show others kindness from this experience.

Dr. Meelie Debroy performed Hosey’s donor surgery, and Dr. Edmund Sanchez performed Butvin’s recipient surgery on Dec. 11 at UH Cleveland Medical Center. Both patients are healthy, recovering and looking forward to spending the holidays with family and friends.


About University Hospitals Transplant Institute
University Hospitals Transplant Institute has now marked more than 50 years of success, as of 2018. The first kidney transplant at UH took place in 1968, and throughout the 1980s, the program expanded to include pancreas, heart and liver procedures as well. In the 1990s, lung transplants were introduced, and Ohio’s first triple-organ procure – liver, kidney and pancreas – was performed at UH. Future growth is expected through initiatives such as collaboration with Lifebanc to establish an Organ and Tissue Recovery Center, increasing education an outreach, and expanding pediatric transplant services at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospitals. Only 54% of adults in the U.S. sign up to be organ donors, and more than 95,000 people are waiting for a kidney in the country. A critical shortage of organs remains for those needing live-saving transplants. Living donation is one way to save lives, reduce the number of people waiting, and increase the chances a match is found. For more information about the transplant process, or to learn more about becoming an organ and tissue donor, please visit: 

About University Hospitals / Cleveland, Ohio
Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located in Cleveland’s University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital, Ohio’s only hospital for women; University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, a high-volume national referral center for complex cardiovascular procedures; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women’s health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals – part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 28,000 physicians and employees. 

Advancing the Science of Health and the Art of Compassion is UH’s vision for benefitting its patients into the future, and the organization’s unwavering mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Discover. Follow UH on LinkedIn, Facebook @UniversityHospitals and Twitter @UHhospitals. For more information, visit

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