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Offline Karol

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Aunt donates kidney to help Havertown infant
« on: February 25, 2011, 02:05:21 PM »
Aunt donates kidney to help Havertown infant

Published: Friday, February 25, 2011
By Danielle Lynch

HAVERFORD — A local woman has plans to donate one of her kidneys to her 15-month-old nephew who has been suffering from end-stage renal failure.

“This surgery is literally going to be lifesaving for him,” said Meredith Dankanis, the aunt of Matthew Donahue.

Jennifer Donahue, Matthew’s mother, said her son had an extremely traumatic birth.

“He really is a miracle,” Donahue said about her son. “He wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a heartbeat. Everything eventually started to come back, except for his kidneys.”

Six weeks after Matthew’s birth, doctors told the family he had end-stage renal failure and needed a transplant. The family was told Matthew needed to wait at least a year, so he would be healthy and strong enough to fit an adult-sized kidney inside his body.

As a result, the family brought Matthew home from the hospital and made plans for him to have 12 hours of peritoneal dialysis every day at home with nursing care.

When the family initially learned Matthew needed a kidney, many people offered to be the donor, including several cousins, Donahue and Dankanis’ other sister, Stacy Cervone, who lives in Florida.

In August, Dankanis, Donahue and her husband, Bill, all had blood type tests done. Dankanis’ blood was a perfect match for Matthew.

A transplant coordinator met with the family in September and Dankanis continued to get a slew of other health tests done. In January, she received official approval to be Matthew’s donor.

“It has been a really long road,” said Donahue.

Donahue, 39, said she was grateful that her sister offered to help.

“She’s a match — a very good match,” Donahue said. “She graciously told us she would give Matthew a kidney.”

Dankanis, 35, said adult nephrologists told her she needs 15 percent of one kidney in order to live a healthy life without dialysis.

Dankanis said doctors told her she would be able to have more children after she has recovered from the transplant surgery.

“A lot of people say there are a lot of things you can’t eat and drink after being a live donor and, really, none of that’s true,” she said.

Donahue and Dankanis, both Haverford residents, said they are grateful of the community’s support.

Dankanis said her husband, Rich, has never once questioned her decision to be a donor. She’s also received a lot of support from her co-workers at Independence Blue Cross. They recently gave her flowers, a decorated poster and card with a collection.

Dankanis said there would be a few tasks she won’t be able to do immediately after the surgery. She is most bothered by the fact that she won’t be able to lift her 8-month-old and 3-year-old children for at least six weeks. “In light of that, everyone has offered to help, and I mean everyone,” she said.

The transplant surgery is tentatively set for Feb. 28 at DuPont Hospital for Children. In the meantime, Matthew is also on the transplant waiting list for a cadaver kidney.

“Without a kidney, Matthew would die,” said Donahue. “Doctors are completely amazed that he has made it this far. He doesn’t know he’s sick. He has no idea.”

While Donahue is looking forward to her son’s transplant surgery, she is worried about financial hardships the family could face afterward.

The mother of five children — ranging from Matthew at 15 months old to a 10-year-old — Donahue won’t be able to work for at least a month after her son’s surgery because he’ll need extra care. She is a pediatric nurse at Bryn Mawr Hospital and her husband, Bill, is the owner of Kazanjian Carpets & Flooring, a small business in Newtown Square.

Despite the anticipated financial strain, Donahue said this surgery will “give Matthew a different life.” She said her son will continue to have other health issues but she hopes the new kidney will improve his quality of life for another 15-30 years. After that, Donahue hopes another person, such as one of his siblings, will be able to offer Matthew another kidney.

Lynne Hall, Matthew’s grandmother, said she is proud of her daughters.

“I believe (Matthew) is going to make it,” Hall said. “I think God intended him to make it.”

Dankanis said she feels honored and humbled to be able to donate a kidney to her nephew.

“Throughout all of this, people have been telling me, ‘you’re a hero’ and ‘you’re amazing.’ I think the underlying theme here is Matthew is the hero,” said Dankanis. “He is on dialysis every day for 12 hours and he’s takes it like a champ. When he eventually recovers from the surgery, it’s literally going to be a good life for him that he doesn’t even know exists.

“His world is about to get rocked,” she said, “but in a good way.”

Benefit set

A benefit for Matthew Donahue will take place from 7-10 p.m. April 8 at J.D. McGillicuddy’s on Brookline Boulevard in Havertown. The fundraiser will include door prizes, a silent auction and 50/50.

Anyone interested in attending can purchase tickets at the door. The $30 ticket per person includes a buffet dinner, beverages and a band

Daughter Jenna is 31 years old and was on dialysis.
7/17 She received a kidney from a living donor.
Please email us: kidney4jenna@gmail.com
Facebook for Jenna: https://www.facebook.com/WantedKidneyDonor
~ We are forever grateful to her 1st donor Patrice, who gave her 7 years of health and freedom


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