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Sister, Sister, Sister: a story of living donation and family support

Kidney transplants affect the whole family! Monica wrote to us with the beautiful story of her sister Karina's transplant thanks to a living donation from their other sister Lisette.

Monica, Karina, and Lisette with their brothers

I am Monica the oldest sister of the three. My sisters are my best friends and their story is so meaningful.  Through their story I want share awareness and know there is hope and encourage family members to get tested and sign up to be an organ donors – don’t be afraid.  Growing up in a Hispanic house hold sometimes we don’t talk about organ donors and the stigma is always fear.


Lisette and Karina, with their father

Karina is 41 years old, She is very energetic and has the best sense of humor.  She is always making everyone laugh, it’s like a party when you are around her.  She has two kids: a 19-year-old daughter, Madilynn and a 13-year-old son, Mason. Her kidney journey began at the age of 14. A physical exam to enter into high school showed her urine test levels were abnormal.  She was recommended to see a urologist and there is when they found out her kidneys were small – never fully developed.  However, despite knowing this she continued to live life as a normal teenager.  At the age of 20 she became pregnant with her daughter.  As the baby developed the doctors were concern for Karina’s life so they recommended she terminate her pregnancy.  We went to her first ultrasound and saw that the baby was growing normally and Karina was not having any complications so she continued with the pregnancy. However, the doctors recommended to induce her early to avoid any serious issues with Karina and baby. A year after giving birth her doctors told her she would soon need to start dialysis and they highly recommended her family get tested and do a kidney transplant as she would eventually need it. 


Karina and her oldest child

Lisette is 42 years old, she is the middle sister. She is loud and very outgoing.  She has two kids: a 15-year-old son, Donovan and a 4-year-old daughter, Emma.  When we learned Karina needed a kidney, Lisette said without hesitation she would get tested. She was a match with her O negative blood type!  At the time she was single and living life to the fullest. She was able to have babies with one kidney with no issues for her or her children.


Karina and Lisette

Transplant day was nerve-wracking for the whole family as we didn’t know what to expect and scared since it is a major surgery.  Lisette’s incision was small and she recovered quickly. She went home the next day after surgery and Karina went home two days later. She has been very committed to making sure her kidney is in good health or as good as it can be.  She follows doctors orders, follows a good diet and exercises consistently. She lives a normal life and in fact she went to have a second baby with her new kidney. Her kidney is going 18 years strong.    

Karina and her youngest child


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