Gabriella Rivera, Kidney Transplant Recipient, 2013
Gabriella lived a normal playful life until she began suffering from debilitating headaches, lasting for hours. For a year she underwent countless tests and took medications that could not relieve the pain. Gaby’s little arms were stuck with needles on a weekly basis for testing with no clear answers. Her mother, Alicia, recalls feeling helpless and disappointed in herself for being a nurse and not being able to do more for her daughter. In November 2011, Alicia took Gaby to the emergency room for high blood pressure. It was then determined that Gaby’s kidneys were failing due to renal dysplasia. In June 2012, Gaby began dialysis three days a week for three hours to survive. Gaby and her mother adapted with the help and support of the other patients, their families and nurses at the dialysis center. After Gaby became stabilized, her doctor decided it was time to talk about transplant. She was referred to University Transplant Center (UTC) for evaluation. For over 25 years, UTC has provided lifesaving transplantation services to over 3200 patients suffering from end stage organ failure. On March 26, 2013, Gaby was placed on the transplant list and on the road to her second chance at life. One week later, on April 3, 2013, Gaby was transplanted. A transplant to Gaby means having the opportunity to experience adventures she has only read in books, to continue admiring the stars, feeling her mom play with her hair, to color, play games, hold her favorite glow doll and one day follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a nurse. It has been a painful journey but one that Gaby no longer has to live.