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Living Donor Stories--Brittany

My name is Brittany Marino and I live in Cary, NC. I've lived in NC on and off for almost 20 years--from junior high to college (Go App State!), and then again for work as an adult. I first considered living donation when I was working in education and discovered one of my old students needed a transplant. I was tested to donate to him, but we were incompatible and his brother quickly stepped up to donate. Since I had already been through much of the process, I decided to donate my kidney to a stranger! I documented my journey through my blog- It was a great decision!


My recipient lives in Baltimore, so I traveled there for the donation. I was excited on the day of surgery, and ready to get on the other side of the process. This was not my first abdominal surgery, or even the most painful. I was lucky to donate at a hospital where they only created one small incision through my belly button, so the actual incision pain wasn't too bad. My main issues directly after donation were the gas pain in my shoulders from the laparoscopy and the catheter! I was fatigued for a bit, but back to normal in about 3 weeks!


While donating a kidney is a profound experience, it doesn't have to impact your quality of life. There seems to be misconception around how donors have to live post-donation, but for me there were just a few changes that need to be made. In the four years since my donation, I've had two children, traveled, gotten the Covid-19 vaccine, and had plenty of alcohol. All with one kidney!! 


My donation didn't just impact the life of my recipient and his family. Some of my best memories in recent years were of my recipient getting to meet and spend time with my kids, celebrating holidays, sharing the highs and lows of life, and receiving updates on the day-to-day opportunities that he has because of me. It is super humbling to see him interacting with his family, riding a bike, playing guitar, learning new skills. Our lives are intertwined forever.