RANTOUL – Cheryl Blackburn tried to talk her son out of donating one of his kidneys to her.

The 61-year-old Rantoul resident said she had problems with her kidneys for a while. She didn’t want her son to one day face the same health problems that were plaguing her. Her son, the youngest of her three children, was having none of her argument.

“It was the right thing to do,” said Joshua Blackburn, 27, and also from Rantoul.

Blackburn kidney donation

Joshua Blackburn of Rantoul holds his mother’s hand at their first checkup following surgery after he donated one of his kidneys to his mom, Cheryl Blackburn, also of Rantoul. The procedure was the 1,000th kidney transplant at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield since the program launched in 1972. Dr. Bradford West, a nephrologist with Springfield Clinic and medical director of the hospital’s transplant program, is on the left.

And Sept. 10, Dr. Marc Garfinkel transplanted one of Joshua’s kidneys into his mother at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, completing the 1,000th transplant since the Alan G. Birtch, MD, Center for Transplant Services at the nonprofit hospital launched in 1972.

The Blackburns joined hundreds of patients whose lives have been transformed by the transplant program.

A week following her surgery, Cheryl Blackburn said she still gets “really tired but I’m getting better every day.”

Receiving a kidney is “one of the greatest gifts you can give to somebody,” Blackburn said. “I know that I have to take better care of myself so I don’t waste this gift.”

The transplant team follows and manages the care of approximately 300 post-transplant patients.