Courage Is Donating A Kidney To Save A Stranger's Life

Courage Is Donating A Kidney To Save A Stranger's Life

By Sara Toffoli, 46, Connecticut

Until I read a People magazine article years ago about a living kidney donor, I didn’t even know that it was possible to do such a thing. I’ve always been an organ donor on my driver’s license, but I liked the idea of being able to help save a life while still alive to see the impact.

I was watching the late news and saw a segment on WPIX called “Help Me, Howard.” My husband Greg was asleep in his chair. Howard was highlighting Torrey Green’s quest for a kidney donor, an art teacher from the Miami area.

His story struck a chord with me and I sensed that inside this smiling man was a sad, sick person striving to stay positive and hopeful while not in the best of health.

Torrey needed a break and I hoped I could be it.

I sent my first email to the network and then I told Greg my idea. He responded,

“Are you mad?!”

He told me after surgery that he felt something had to come up to disqualify me, but I had faith that if it was meant to be, it was meant to be. I spoke to a colleague who had done it for his niece and it deepened my resolve to pursue donating a kidney altruistically.

On November, I had my first crossmatch blood test and a week later I discovered Torrey and I were a match.

On December, I spent a full day at NY Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center undergoing a battery of tests including drawing many tubes of blood, chest x-ray, CT scans of my pelvis and abdomen and an EKG. I also spoke with a social worker, doctor AND a psychiatrist to ensure I knew the risks and to ensure I knew there would be no financial reward for donating.

On June of the following year, I met with the surgeon who eased my husband’s concerns and went through a final pre-surgery check-up along with registering with the OR.

I saw Torrey, but we did not speak. He’d been heartbroken by donors backing out and I didn’t want to risk saying anything just in case my check-up came back with any reason to eliminate me from donating.

June 12th was surgery day. I woke up and got to the hospital at 5:00 AM. I checked in and sat down with Greg to wait.

Torrey walked in and he looked at me, smiled and we embraced as he sobbed quietly.

Torrey and Sara after

Torrey and Sara after

I knew I was making the right decision all along and reassured him that the worst was behind him.

We posed for photos and you can see in them how we’re both beaming with peace and love for each other and the decision that would soon impact both of our lives.

Two days later, I returned home and slowly got my strength and energy back.

I couldn’t have done this without the loving support of Greg, his family and all of our friends and colleagues. 

To see Torrey returned to the life and vitality teaching his students art and enjoying life again is all I ever wished for when I started the process almost a year earlier. 

Our story aired on WPIXin early July and seeing myself motivated me to get myself into better shape and I’m now twenty-five pounds lighter than I was during surgery. 

I’m embracing life more than ever and have Torrey to thank for inspiring me. I wish I had more kidneys to donate!

This article was originally published by Sara Toffoli here.
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