LEE COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida doctor is giving her co-worker another chance at life. Once Dr. Melanie Altizer found out her friend at Lee Health, Marianne McGiffin, needed a kidney transplant she went and got tested to be a donor.
About 100,000 people are in need of a kidney transplant in the United States. The average kidney donor wait list is 5 to 7 years. This is why Dr. Melanie Altizer and Marianne McGiffin want to raise awareness about living kidney donors.
“Time wasn’t on my side. As each day was passing by, I could feel I was getting sicker,” said Marianne McGiffin, Clinical Manager at Lee Health.
Marianne McGiffin has battled kidney disease for 20 years and it's gotten worse the last couple of years. “4 or 5 months into my working here at Lee Health, I found out about Marianne’s kidney disease and started inquiring,” said Dr. Melanie Altizer.
Dr. Altizer went through tests and found out she was a match. “If someone would’ve told me 3 years ago, I would be in Florida giving up a kidney, I would’ve thought they were crazy,” said Dr. Altizer.
McGiffin and Dr. Altizer developed a close bond from working together at Lee Health. “We have a bond that I think kidney or no kidney was going to be there,” said McGiffin.
The surgery is this Wednesday at Tampa General Hospital, and they've gotten great support from their colleagues.
Pre-operation surgery was all done locally at Gulf Coast Hospital, which has a partnership with Tampa General Hospital.
"There was no words. How do you explain someone is saving your life? I’ve never been in this situation before, I’m in awe. She’s my hero,” said McGiffin.
“There’s nothing that I’d rather do than give my friend, that I care very deeply about, another chance at life,” said Dr. Altizer.
For more information on how you can become a living kidney donor, click here.