(Atlanta, GA) — A long search by one local family came to a successful end last week for one local family after the generous donation of a kidney by a living donor from over 3,000 miles away.
Two Heard High students, Trey and Sara Wiggins along with the help of their mom Angela began an internet campaign late in 2013 hoping to find a new kidney for their grandmother Beverly.
Beverly has polycystic kidney disease, which is a genetic disorder that causes cysts to form on the kidneys and eventually causes the kidneys to stop working.
After writing a letter to local newspapers and appearing on Fox-5 Atlanta news last December, the word began to travel about the family’s prayer and Christmas wish for their “Gran” Beverly to find the desperately needed kidney.
Way out on the west coast in California, Leslie Calderoni read the story after someone shared it on facebook and she decided that she just had to help.
After a lot of testing it was determined that while Leslie was not a perfect match for Beverly, that she did qualify to help her through the paired kidneys program, a program which involves the exchanging of organs by multiple people to help one another.
Leslie’s kidney was removed and flown to New Jersey, while another donor there was able to donate to Beverly. All of this took place last Tuesday and it appears that the surgeries were a complete success.
“I honestly didn’t put that much thought into it,” Calderoni told Fox-5 News in a follow-up interview Sunday afternoon. “It just sounded like the right thing to do. I just feel like gosh I hope someone would do it for me if I needed it. This was just a decision to just help someone else another human being to have a longer life. I want her to have all the birthdays, all the graduations, and all the Christmas’s… all the things I would want if they were at risk for me.”
According to Leslie, her friends, family, and co-workers have been great in allowing her the time she has needed in order to make this rare donation to the Wiggins family.
Calderoni also notes that California workplace laws are beneficial to those such as herself that want to donate organs.
A relatively new type of leave for private employers in California is organ and bone marrow donor leave. Under the Michelle Maykin Memorial Donation Protection Act, effective January 1, 2011, companies employing 15 or more employees must provide paid leave to an employee that requests it for the purpose of donating an organ or bone marrow to another person.
“Is is just pretty awesome how a stranger from across the country would do this to help our family,” Sara Wiggins, a freshman at HHS, told Fox-5 Sunday.
Beverly Wiggins, who is recovering at home this week is thankful to all that helped in finding a donor as well as all that helped Leslie to give her “The Gift of Life.”
“This miracle would not have taken place without my grandchildren Trey and Sara Wiggins and their mother Angela’s help writing that letter,” said Beverly Wiggins.
“For this I will be forever thankful. Also, I wish more people could donate like Leslie did. There are so many people on dialysis every day that are just waiting for a kidney. I would also like to thank everyone for their calls, cards , and prayers. I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s support.”