Sisters share kidney transplant experience on National Siblings Day

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) – Not only is April National Donate Life Month, but also Saturday is National Siblings Day.

“When my daughter was 1-year-old, I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease,” said Donna Tovalin, the kidney recipient.

That’s when she was told she only had around seven years left to live.

“Two of my sisters stepped up to the plate. The first one, my oldest sister Mary Beth and unfortunately, days before the transplant, it was canceled. Because doctors thought doing a transplant on my sister Mary Best would harm her,” said Tovalin.

Next up? Her second sister, Cecelia Chmiola.

“Cecelia turned out to be a positive match and thank goodness. Our transplant was July 27, 2004. So, this is our sweet 16 of the kidney transplant,” said Tovalin.

“You know, I just went through the process and did what I could because I knew my younger sister needed something and if I could do it, why not do it,” said Chmiola.

There are many misconceptions about being an organ donor. One of the biggest being that many people believe you have to be deceased to donate your organs.

“Most people are born with two kidneys and you can live a full, productive life with only one kidney. It’s an incredibly powerful gift to someone that tangibly improves their life, how they feel everyday,” said Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, Chief Medical Officer of the National Kidney Foundation.

At the end of the day, these three all have the same message: look into being a living organ donor.

“I call Cecelia my living angel. If she had not stepped in, I wouldn’t be here today doing this interview. Be a living donor so people can have their life back,” said Tovalin.

Donating an organ is not something to be taken lightly.

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