In December 2012, Sonia Lara’s husband, Ulises, was diagnosed with kidney failure. The couple soon learned he was born with one kidney. And because it was failing, he needed a kidney transplant.
“My husband was 39 when he found out,” Sonia says. “Having grown up in Mexico City, without means, medical exams and medical testing that is more accessible here in the United States, he never had a chance to take care of the one kidney he had.”
When her husband was evaluated for possible transplant, Sonia was evaluated for potential compatibility as his living kidney donor. “I thought about my sons who were eight and six, one of whom has cerebral palsy,” she says. “This was a choice of love. This was a choice to give my sons a future with their father, who already had given them so much.”
A week later —“against all odds,” Sonia says — she learned she was a compatible donor for her husband. The next three months were a series of exams leading up to her kidney donation and her husband’s transplant.
“It came time to talk to our family about the situation,” Sonia says. “My mom couldn’t quite comprehend the process and the risks. I ended up taking her to our family physician of 30 years, who had diagnosed Ulises’ need for a transplant so he could explain to her that this was quite okay and that living donors’ risks are minimal.
“Miracles of miracles,” Sonia’s mother was okay with the surgery. “She was there throughout the surgery, she was there after it and she has been influential in my healing.”
Ulises was transplanted with Sonia’s donated kidney, and both are healthy today. Sonia says her mother talks about how her daughter saved a life. “She is proud to talk about it and relishes that she, too, is signed up to be an organ donor,” Sonia says. “I know we were lucky with our experience. There are so many others who aren’t as lucky.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 120,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant in the United States. Of them, about 99,000 are waiting for kidneys.
“If I can urge you to do something today, it’s to make a difference in someone’s life,” Sonia says. “Sign up to be an organ and tissue donor. Thousands and thousands of people are depending on it. Give someone else a chance at life.”