Paying it Forward

Dennis, Recipient
Maureen, Donor

Living Donor Kidney Exchange Program

Inspired as a child by a documentary featuring the cardiac surgeon who performed the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, kidney donor Maureen describes herself as someone who has believed in organ donation all her life.

Ironically in 1991, her first child Megan was born with heart problems and at a year old received a heart transplant. Though full of strength and loved by so many, Megan sadly died from an infection shortly after the procedure.

The love, compassion, and deep gratitude Maureen felt from the experience stayed with her. When she learned that Dennis, a regular customer at her bakery, needed a kidney, she did not need to think twice about donating one of hers. She knew it was the right thing to do.

“When the opportunity arose, I did not see a reason not to donate. I am so proud that I could finally ‘pay it forward’, if you will, for my daughter, Megan,” says Maureen.

And “pay it forward” she did. By bravely and selflessly volunteering to allow the transplant surgeons at Saint Barnabas to remove her kidney, she became part of a transplant chain that improved the lives of Dennis and three other recipients.

“I am happy there are people like Maureen that care enough about others to step up to such a courageous act, says Dennis. She is truly a hero and an amazing person. I am very lucky.”

Now, with his new kidney and a renewed sense of life, Dennis thanks God everyday for Maureen. He feels energized and is able to live his life without the confines of his regular dialysis treatments. He is thrilled to be able to eat a normal diet, especially his beloved family’s traditional Italian feasts.

“I feel like I was born again. I am able to look into the future and feel happy that I will get to experience all the joys that life has to offer,” Dennis explains. He looks forward to the arrival of his first grandchild which at times he felt would never happen.

Maureen and Dennis are both so appreciative of the transplant staff at Saint Barnabas. “The whole transplant team truly cares about their patients and becomes passionately involved in their care. You are not just a number - you are family,” says Maureen.

“Over the course of 10 years, every single person on 5700 has given me the best care, explains Dennis. They are amazing at their jobs and I am happy to have been in the care of every one of them.”

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