Making Matches that Save Lives
The Match that Started it All
Making matches that save lives. That’s our goal in a nutshell. What exactly does that mean? Glad you asked!
In 2018, Julie Daquelente was attempting to donate her liver to someone who needed it. She didn’t have a particular recipient, but wanted to donate to a stranger in need (also called an altruistic donation). She had known she wanted to be an organ donor for 18 years at this point and decided it was the right time in her life to move forward.
Knowing that there are thousands of people waiting for a liver transplant, it would seem that she would be welcomed by transplant centers with open arms. However, this was the not the case.
She contacted multiple transplant centers in places where she knew she would have support before, during, and after surgery. And each center told her that they do not do altruistic liver donations.
Julie then turned to social media organ transplant support groups to find answers.
This Facebook post led to interaction with multiple people, including Betty C., the mother of the man she would end up donating to.
As she responded to comments and the multiple people who were trying to find a liver donor for themselves or a loved one, she realized that something needed to be done.Who you know should not determine if you live or die. #livingdonor @livedonormatch Click To Tweet
Her next step in the donation process was to head across the country to New York Prebyterian-Weill Cornell where she underwent two days of testing, scans and evaluation to determine if she could be a living liver donor. As she went through this process, she knew she could be disqualified for any number of reasons – liver size, anatomy, blood work results – and she knew that there was a reason, no matter the outcome of her personal donation story, that she had felt the call to be a living donor for 18 years.
Living Donor Match became that reason. Even if she wasn’t able to donate to her intended recipient, she would create something and make it her mission to help him find a donor. And she wanted to do the same for all of the people in that Facebook group she visited back in August and for all of the people out there that were just waiting, hoping and literally dying for a donor organ to come along.
After her evaluation in NYC, she headed back to the west coast where a month later she underwent a liver biopsy, and remembers receiving the call from Dr. Benjamin Samstein the following morning to tell her she had officially been cleared and surgery was scheduled for six weeks away on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at New York Presbyterian – Weill Cornell.
On December 4, 2018, she boarded a plane with her care partner, and on December 5, she headed down the hall in the hotel they were staying at to meet Bobby and his parents for the first time.
The following week, she donated 65% of her liver to Bobby, a husband, a father of two, a brother, and a son, and if you asked her, she would do it again without a second thought.
(Above) Julie and Bobby a few days after liver donation (Right) Julie and Bobby still recovering in NYC with Bobby’s parents Bob and Betty
(Above) Julie and Bobby a few days after liver donation (Below) Julie and Bobby still recovering in NYC with Bobby’s parents Bob and Betty
Two strangers met – one from a small island off the west coast, one from Florida – in NYC and lives were changed. It is the mission of Living Donor Match to help connect people like Julie who feel called to living donation with people like Bobby who are fighting for their lives. While the need became obvious through living liver donation, we are here to help anyone who is awaiting a transplant that is eligible for a living donor (kidney, liver, pancreas, lung).
While there are some centers that allow for altruistic donations, there are far more that do not. We are here to facilitate matches and relationships so that people who would otherwise never know each other, can connect so that no potential living donor is rejected by a transplant center because they do not know their recipient.
Making Matches that Save Lives
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