Illinois Donor Diaries – Chapter 26 – Gigi’s Gift

Below is our latest entry in the Illinois Donor Diaries. Thanks for the submission Jennifer!

– Joslyn


Jennifer and Gigi

In 2003, just after my 23rd birthday, I was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, an auto-immune kidney disease. My own anti-bodies were attacking my kidneys. Within 2 years, my kidneys were functioning at less that 10%. At this point I began receiving dialysis treatments. Simply put, dialysis is medicine that helps clean out your body when your kidneys can’t do it for you. I had to be at the dialysis center 3 days a week, 4 hours a day. This process made me extremely tired for the first 6 months, and many times after that as well.

In July 2007, I received a call from the transplant coordinators telling me that a donor match had been found for me!

I was very happy but also nervous. When I went to the hospital to meet Gigi, I learned that her sister Candice also needed a transplant. Gigi was not a match for her sister, so she was donating to anyone who needed it.  The hospital had found a donor for Candice too – a Good Samaritan donor, and the surgeries were set to happen all at the same time, on the same day.  This is called a “paired donation.”  I was very lucky to be a part of this special procedure. Gigi recovered in the hospital for three days and I was in the hospital for five days.

I am so grateful to Gigi for giving me this chance to have a full life!  Now 28 years old, I am able to travel and work at a job that I love  without having to spend hours of my life in a dialysis chair.  Gigi is also doing great.  She reports that other than the scar; she feels the same as she did before the surgery took place. She is my hero for being so selfless.

-Jennifer D.

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One Response to Illinois Donor Diaries – Chapter 26 – Gigi’s Gift

  1. Cynthia says:

    An FDA advisory panel just recommended that the warning for Covidien’s Optimark and GE’s Omnisca—drugs in the family of medications known as gadolinium-based contrast agents (DBCAs)—be updated to restrict their use in patients with severe kidney disease because of the potential for an increased risk of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). NSF causes thickening of the skin and organs. GBCAs carry a strong “black box” warning. This site has good information on this issue:

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