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Oct 04th
Home Sections Health and Medicine Fil Am Lady Hits Jackpot: A Kidney Donation!
Fil Am Lady Hits Jackpot: A Kidney Donation! PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Health and Medicine
Written by Joseph G. Lariosa   
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 13:08



(© 2009 Journal Group Link International)



HICAGO, Illinois (JGLi) – When Myra de la Vega applied for a driver’s license several years ago, she checked at the back of her license that she is an organ donor. Little did she know that her altruism would pay off when she turned up later to be an organ recipient, herself.
Instead of waiting in line for five years to get a dead man’s kidney, the 49-year-old native of
Calamba City in the Philippines got a new lease of life when a male Caucasian customer in a grocery chain where she works broke the news Friday (Feb. 5) that his blood and tissues were a match to her.
She is going to have a kidney transplant operation on March 26 at Northwestern Memorial hospital in suburban
Evanston, Illinois.
“I still can’t believe it up to now,” Ms. De la Vega, a single mom, told this reporter during a face-to-face interview in her
Evanston home Tuesday (Feb. 9), referring to the noble deed of one of the customers of Jewel-Osco in Evanston, Dan Coyne, her neighbor and an elementary-school social worker.
“It’s too good to be true. It still gives me chills. I feel so lucky. There are thousands in the waiting list – because everyday, I am in pain and deal with it. I felt like winning the lottery.”
When told that there are foreigners suffering from renal failure like her who would travel to the
Philippines and shell out from US$2,000 to US$10,000 to obtain one of the fist-sized two kidneys of a Filipino donor, the petite Ms. De la Vega said, “I definitely will not be able to afford to give such (monetary) donation. I would rather spend it to pay for my home mortgage and for the college education of my two kids. And I won’t exchange my new kidney for anything.”
T he former government employee of Calamba and later Department of Agriculture who had planned to take up Ph. D. before coming to the United States in 1995 said, “I hope the donation made by Mr. Coyne will be replicated by Filipinos in my native country as it serves as a lesson that there are still some good in humanity. It is as good as it gets. I hope Filipinos would give away their kidney as a gift without giving it monetary value so blessing will go their way.”
A graduate of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Development Communication, major in journalism, at University of the Philippines--Los Banos, Ms. De la Vega had harbored thoughts of quitting her job as a customer’s relations officer of the leading Midwest food-and-drug retailer chain when she could not handle some difficult customers.
But she now calls herself “lucky I worked at Jewel-Osco for 12 years; I’m lucky I did not quit. I would not have met Coyne.”
Ms. De la Vega had no symptoms of renal failure. “But three years ago, I was feeling so weak. Although I was eating like a horse, I was losing weight. I felt nauseous and tired.
“One night, I felt a pain in my shoulder and I punched out from work and my blood pressure Blood Pressure rose to 200. But I was still able to drive. Three doctors told me, ‘you are lucky you are still alive. You could have had brain stroke and heart attack. After analysis of my urine and other tests, they me told there was something wrong with my kidney.”
S he explained her renal failure is not related to diet or stress. But she mentioned that when she were young she was eating dried mangoes with lots of salts and toyo (soy sauce) “and of course I was born with my kidney.”
Two years ago, she struck a conversation with Coyne at her work. When he learned that she was starting dialysis for kidney failure, he asked whether she would consider him as a donor.
“I told him this is not a game. This is a serious thing. He said, ‘
Myra, give me a chance.’” she said, adding, “I’d give you a year to think about it while my sister was coming.”
Myra decided to accept the kidney donation of Coyne when her sister contracted a mild heart condition that prevented her from having a surgery to donate a kidney although her sister was a match.
When told that a Filipina was given a
U.S. visa several years ago to donate a kidney to her brother in Chicago but changed her mind and refused to donate her kidney when she reached Chicago, Myra felt doubly blessed with Coyne’s donation. The Filipina had gone into hiding and her brother told this reporter that he was reporting his sister to the U.S. Immigration authorities for deportation.
In 2004, Ben Liggayu, a 41-year-old corn farmer of Isabela province in the
Philippines, was granted a U.S. visa to donate his kidney to his nephew, Erich Munzon. The kidney transplant in Chicago was successful. Mr. Munzon, the kidney recipient, is now a Chicago lawyer.
According to the Chicago Tribune, nearly half of all the transplants in the
U.S. are from living donors. Some are related by blood; others donate to a general pool; some, like Coyne, simply have an emotional connection with the recipient.
Half of living-donor kidneys transplanted now will still function in 25 years, whereas half of kidneys from deceased donors fail in the first 10 years, according to Dr. John Friedewald, a transplant nephrologist at
Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Patients also experience significantly less pain, a shorter hospital stay and can return to normal life much faster. (


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Last Updated on Friday, 12 February 2010 13:35

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