Local comedian to embark on 9,500 mile drive to make documentary on organ donations

XXX (Madeline Pado/DD)
Amy Donohue donated her kidney to Anu Dwivedi, who she calls Tinymom, after seeing a Twitter post about her situation. She wants her documentary to support organ donations while using her comedy routines to add humor. (Madeline Pado/DD)

Amy Donohue was convinced from the very beginning to go through with an operation to save the life of a person she had never met.

The local comedian and multimedia consultant saw a tweet from a woman she had only met once before, that said her mother, Anu Dwivedi, was in need of a kidney. That’s when Donohue replied through Twitter that she was willing donate one of her kidneys.

When the news spread, Donohue said she received tweets, Facebook messages and letters in support of her donation. Others told her that they registered to be an organ donor.

“It’s my hope that at least once a week, there is someone who will say I registered to be a live organ donor,” Donohue said.

Donohue donated her kidney two years ago and now plans to drive across the country for the filming of a documentary about organ donation.

The whole endeavor is being cataloged on her blog.

Leaving May 1, Donohue and her team will travel 9,500 miles. Beginning in Phoenix, they will drive to Seattle and then make their way to Boston.

The film will document people who are in need of organs as well as donors that she had met through social media, she said.

Donohue said each stop in the documentary will feature some of her comedy routine, including jokes about kidneys.

“Some of it will be funny, some of it will be emotional,” she said of the film. “At the end of the day, it’s my ability to take something that is bad or emotional and twist it into a joke.”

The documentary is being funded in numerous ways, including through sales of T-shirts, private donations and two campaigns with Indiegogo, an online fundraising platform.

The month-long filming will cost about $60,000, Donohue said.

“The film isn’t for me,” Donohue said. “The film is for all those Tinymoms out there who are waiting for an organ.”

The month of April has also been declared Donate Life Month by Gov. Jan Brewer to highlight the growing need for organ and tissue donors in Arizona.

Kris Patterson, spokesperson for the Donor Network of Arizona, said over 50 Arizona hospitals will be competing with each other to register the most organ and tissue donors throughout the month of April.

Nearly 2,400 Arizonans are waiting for organ donations, Patterson said. The United States has more than 117,000 people in waiting lists.

“The majority of people waiting for an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney,” Patterson said. 1,908 of the 2,392 people who need organs are people who need a kidney.

Dwivedi, who Donohue affectionately refers to as Tinymom, was unable to eat foods like tomatoes, potatoes or bananas because of her kidney disease. This meant no pizza, her favorite food, for 10 years of her life.

As soon as she was cleared to eat pizza — 90 days after the surgery — they celebrated by eating pizza with jalapenos, grilled onions and eggplant, Donohue said.

“The relationship from the donor family to the recipient is a very close relationship, as you’ll see from Amy,” Patterson said. “What many people may not know is that Donor Network of Arizona has meetings between the recipients and families and many of these people have made very close relationships.”

Contact the reporter at jkalafut@asu.edu