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Paired donor exchange program saves lives

Belinda Pena, Kidney Recipient, 1995 & 2012

Belinda Peña had been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. At age 7 she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. At age 13 she fell into a coma and was told she would not survive until her mother transferred her to University Hospital where she recovered within a couple of hours. At age 21 she lived a year partially blind until she received a lens implant. At age 26 her body had become so swollen that in her first three days of dialysis they removed thirty pounds of fluid. After three years on the transplant waiting list at University Transplant Center, she received a kidney and the 2nd pancreas transplant in Texas. She was told that her kidney was producing acid and would probably only last one year. It lasted fifteen! In 2010 she was advised to start on dialysis but never did. Her husband knew that he wanted to give her his kidney although she refused. She didn’t want to burden him more than she already had (or so she felt). Belinda and Daniel have been married now for 27 years and have three adopted children, ages 20, 11, and 8 who Belinda says keep her going. Daniel, without a doubt, has dedicated his life to his wife and persisted to donate his kidney despite not being an exact match thanks to the opportunities provided from local paired donation exchange programs. After the transplant, on September 19, 2012, Daniel, along with his nurse as his guide, went to visit Belinda in the intensive care unit. As he arrived, Belinda’s eyes locked with his and he softly uttered the words “I love you”! A moment that Belinda’s niece said she will never forget.

Belinda Pena, Kidney Recipient, 1995 & 2012