On Dec. 11, perfect strangers, Tiffany Tung and Dawn Bates, met for the first time and declared themselves “sisters for life.” Tung, recipient of a life-saving kidney transplant at the North Shore University Hospital Transplant Center met Bates, her donor.
“People who donate and receive kidneys are normal people,” said Ernesto Molmenti, MD, surgical director of the Transplant Center. “They work, they have families. When you donate, you allow people in need to return to their lives. It’s a true gift of life, and these people are to be admired.”
For Tung of Westbury, this was her second kidney transplant. She had been living with kidney failure since turning 15.
“I know that I am a very lucky person,” she said. “I can’t even find the words to describe my feelings about the entire process and meeting the woman who has saved my life.”
Bates, who lives in Deer Park, explained that she had originally approached the transplant center to discover the possibility of being a donor for one of her relatives. When the doctors told her she was incompatible with her relative, Bates was faced with a decision.
“I was told that I might be a match for someone else through a complex chain of transplants known as a swap,” she said. “Although I couldn’t give help my relative, there was someone else who could benefit from my kidney. So, I decided to go forward. Just because I hit a brick wall doesn’t mean there has to be a brick wall for someone else.”
—Submitted by North Shore LIJ Health System