Sister donates kidney to her brother, saving his life

Living donor transplant rates are on the decline, but the Ottawa Hospital is trying to fix that with their new one-day kidney donor evaluation program.

The program has already help a sister save her brother’s life.

Siblings Antonio Polito and Trina Onofrio have been close their entire lives. Earlier this year, Polito’s health started to decline. He was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.

“I went from a healthy guy, you know, constantly go go go. To all of a sudden, you have a major health issue,” says Polito. “This is my life right now until I find a donor.” 

And that kidney donor was his younger sister Trina.

“I’m still emotional. Still in shock about it,” says Onofrio. “And then I found out I was a perfect match, actually, two days before the surgery date. So we knew we were good to go.”

It only took one day of testing to find out if Onofrio was a match thanks to the one-day living kidney donor evaluation program at the Ottawa Hospital.

“The purpose of the one-day evaluation process is for you to be able to find out if you can donate. And then to donate sooner,” says Dr. Ann Bugeja, Nephrologist and Living Kidney Donor Program Medical Director. “This is the best treatment for somebody with kidney failure. This is the best treatment that we have in nephrology in 2022 and moving forward for a while. So this this gives people the most hope.” 

Over the past year, 33 donor candidates have gone through the program and 13 have been approved to be living donors.

“From the beginning of the process, it was effortless,” says Onofrio. “The whole beginning, middle and end. It was so easy that I would honestly do it all over again.”

“It’s the best gift I can ever receive from my sister,” says Polito. “You know, she really stepped up for me. I call her my little sister but now I’ve got to call her my little hero.” 

Just one week after Polito’s surgery, he was home, thanking his little sister for what she did.

“She stepped up big and, you know, saved my life.” Says Polito. 

“In the end, knowing that a surgery like this can save somebody’s life and get them back to normal living. I’m telling you, it’s probably the best thing someone can do.” Says Onofrio. 

If you are interested in becoming a living kidney donor, visit the Ottawa Hospital’s living kidney donor website for more information.

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