Mario Teixeira’s life was saved last summer. He just didn’t know it.
It all began last August during a visit to Long Beach Island. Maureen Tracy had been sitting on the beach with a distant cousin, Josette Teixeira, hearing about how her husband, Mario, had been on dialysis for two years and desperately needed a kidney transplant.
Tracy, a single mother of three from Verona, expressed her sympathies and the topic of conversation moved elsewhere. But in the days and weeks that followed, she could not stop thinking about Mario and the battle he was quietly facing.
Tracy began asking herself: “Well, why can’t I donate a kidney to Mario?”
“I started doing the research and realized that it was no big deal for healthy people to donate a kidney,” said Tracy, 45. “But I was concerned. I am a healthy person, a single mother and I wouldn’t want to do anything that would limit my active life.”
Earlier this year, Tracy was still thinking about Mario Teixeira. So finally she picked up the phone and called Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston to ask questions and learn if she could even be a possible donor of Mario’s new kidney.
An appointment was scheduled for a test – Tracy was a perfect match.
“I told Mario and Josette that I would donate my kidney; they were speechless,” she recalled. “They knew me and my personality, and, as a single mom, the sacrifice I would be making to donate a kidney. I never looked at it that way; it just seemed like something I was meant to do.”
Tracy underwent the kidney transplant on April 15. She was out of the hospital within two days, and without pain a week after that. Ten days after the transplant she was taking vigorous walks in the park, four weeks after the transplant she resumed jogging and, on June 8, she placed fifth in her age category at NJ Sharing Network’s fourth-annual 5K Walk and USATF Certified Race in New Providence.
“I’m so glad this happened; I was really blown away that Maureen even considered it,” Mario said. “I now get this feeling whenever she’s close by. When we were in the hospital, after the surgery, I said that I had a taste for eggplant parmesan. My son gave me this weird look and said Maureen had just said the same thing a few minutes ago.”
Mario Teixeira said recently that it is wonderful to have his life back and to have “a new, good, close friend,” noting Tracy and her children were planning on coming by his East Hanover home to jump in the pool.
Tracy said she looks forward to volunteering her time with NJ Sharing Network and telling her story as a living donor, in the hopes others would consider donating a kidney.
Dr. Prakash Rao, vice president of diagnostic and research operations and director of the transplant laboratory for NJ Sharing Network, said altruistic donors like Maureen Tracy are incredible individuals who selflessly save lives.
He notes that kidney donors could also be “paired donors,” in which they can become part of a chain and save countless lives. A paired donor scenario involves a patient who has an incompatible, yet willing donor. These donors are tested and entered into a registry database and matched with other pairs.
“Just one extremely compassionate and extremely generous person could start a chain, in which there are dozens of donors saving people’s lives at transplant centers across the country,” Rao said.
In fact, NJ Sharing Network’s state-of-the-art lab received the National Kidney Registry’s “Excellence in Teamwork Award” for helping to facilitate the longest kidney match of 2013. That was “Chain 221,” the second longest chain in the history of kidney transplants with 56 participants.
Through the efforts of NJ Sharing Network’s lab, as well as the many other centers participating, 28 people received life-saving kidney transplants. Among those were 10 highly sensitized patients who are difficult to match for kidney transplantation, adding a greater level of difficulty to the process.
NJ Sharing Network is a non-profit that helps identify potential organ donors for the nearly 5,000 New Jersey residents currently awaiting transplants. To register as an organ donor, click here.