12-7-06December 7, 2006

A local nurse who helped clear the way for kidney transplants for others is finally getting her own gift of life this holiday season. Dr. Peter Ostrow has details on fundraising efforts to help cover the costs for the generous donor.

Diane Krzyzanowski is a nurse at the Jacobs Neurological Institute. Thursday was her last day at work for a while, because next week, she’s getting a kidney transplant, from a woman she’s never met.

Krzyzanowski said, “When I think about the whole concept, that a woman is coming from three states away, that I don t even know, and is going to give me her kidney, I can’t kind of grasp that — it’s a hard thing to grasp.”

She’s been looking for a donor for a long time, and has helped other people find donors.

Krzyzanowski said, “My friends and I, we started this web site because we knew that there was a need out there.”  And while she was working Thursday, her friends and colleagues were raising money to help pay her donor’s expenses.  Terry Justinger, RN, said, “She’s a beautiful girl, I’ve known her for many, many years, and we needed to raise some money for her to receive a kidney transplant. She’s been waiting for a long time.”

Dr. Frederick Munschauer said, “I’m so pleased that there is a donor who’s willing to give a kidney to Diane, to really save her life. And the altruistic nature of this donor, a total stranger, just reaffirms my faith in mankind.”

The donor arrives in Buffalo on Sunday, and the operation will be on Wednesday.

Diane’s mother died of the same disease she has.  Krzyzanowski said, “My mom didn’t get a chance to have a transplant, and to me, this is like the greatest gift in the world. I feel I’m getting the chance she never had.”

Kaleida Health transplant surgeon Dr. Mark Laftavi said, “I don’t find any better way of expressing yuor love to your society, to your people, better than this way.”

They need to raise money because insurance only pays medical expenses; it doesn’t cover the costs of the donor’s travel, or living expenses, or lost wages during recovery.

We know Buffalo is the City of Good Neighbors. Tthe Doubletree Hotel is providing lodging, the Shanor Foundation is paying air fare, and West-Herr Automotive is supplying a car.

They still need more, and if you’re interested in helping, the Jacobs Neurological Institute has set up a special line: 859-7524.

A kidney is quite a Christmas gift.