The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 26, 2005

University Of Iowa Student Honored For Support Of Kidney Research

A 19-year-old University of Iowa sophomore's extraordinary efforts on behalf of people with chronic kidney disease have earned her the "Spirit of Service" award from the American Association of Kidney Patients.

Jenna Lynne Smith, daughter of Dr. Richard Smith and Lynne Lanning of Iowa City, received the 2005 award, which includes an expense-paid trip to the association's annual meeting in Las Vegas. Smith was nominated for the award by Victoria Lim, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine and Smith's long-time kidney disease specialist at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Smith has waged a lifelong battle with membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis type II, a rare disorder that stops the kidneys from correctly filtering waste from the blood. MPGN II causes end-stage renal disease, which she developed at age 7.

To combat the illness, Smith underwent peritoneal dialysis until receiving a living-related kidney transplant five years ago; her father was the donor. The transplant ultimately failed, causing her to begin hemodialysis in 2002.

"Having been through aggressive immunosuppressive therapy, her health was abysmally precarious at that time," Lim said. "I wasn't sure she would make it."

Today, Smith is an active, happy and confident sophomore majoring in biology, Lim says. She ingeniously integrated dialysis into her busy schedule.

Smith's remarkable spirit has been a motivating factor as she and her family have raised money through Kidneeds, a foundation they started about 15 years ago to support MPGN II research.

"I was making and selling quilts at the time, and it just seemed like a good idea to give the money to research," said Smith, whose role in the foundation includes:

-- Starting a company with her identical twin sister, Jessica, called Jensica Jewels. Together, they make glass beads over an acetylene torch and use the beads to make jewelry. Some $20,000 has been raised towards kidney research through sales of the jewelry at Hands Jewelers in Iowa City;

-- With Jessica's help, starting a card business called Twinkarkink. The sisters make and sell various greeting cards, resulting in $18,000 in kidney research support;

-- Selling glow-in-the-dark silicone wristbands to promote knowledge of MPGN II;

-- Participation in Kidneeds fund-raising events, including the annual Chili Dog Fair at the Johnson County Fairgrounds, the annual Football Skills Contest sponsored by Toyota of Iowa City and the annual Cinco De Mayo Enchilada fundraiser;

-- Speaking with and sending e-mails to other children diagnosed with MPGN II, along with visiting children on dialysis at Children's Hospital of Iowa, located at UI Hospitals and Clinics;

-- Working last summer in research laboratories focusing on MPGN II.

Smith has also been recognized for her community research by the Iowa Medical Society Alliance, and she received the Peterson Scholarship, awarded through the UI Foundation to persons with chronic renal disease or end-stage renal disease.

She also works at Habitat for Humanity building projects, including a project in New Mexico. Her participation there was made possible by the availability of dialysis services nearby.

Lim said Smith was an ideal candidate for the "Spirit of Service" award. "In Jenna I see the resiliency of the human body and the unyielding strength of the human spirit," she said.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

CONTACTS: Media: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,; Writer: Mike Sondergard