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A brother’s generosity saves his sister’s life

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Last year in the US, organ donation saved or enhanced nearly 28,000 lives. One Wilmington woman said there is nothing she is more thankful for this holiday season.

“In 1993, I got really sick, I felt like I had the flu, and my body was achy. I had a fever and went to the doctor, and he told me I had lost two thirds of my kidney function and that eventually I would need a transplant,” described organ recipient Maddie Pimentel.

Lucky for Maddie, her brother Robb was a perfect match.

“It was very scary to think I’m going to need an organ transplant. I didn’t know anyone who had ever had any kind of transplant. This was back in 1994, so it was something that really was foreign to me and kind of scary,” said Maddie.

In 2007, she had the operation. She said, “My brother went in first, his transplant team went ahead and performed his surgery, and they pulled out a beautiful, pink healthy kidney, very strong. Once everything was cleared with that, they went ahead and took me back and performed my surgery, and that evening we were both up and talking. I think he was a little more sore than I was.”

Living with a piece of her younger brother has lead to some interesting life changes. “I think it’s made me like some of the things he likes. I never liked chicken wings, I never liked chocolate chip cookies, that was something that he loved,” Maddie explained.

While Maddie was lucky enough to find a match in her own family, not everyone is. That is why having an organ donor heart on your driver’s license like Maddie is so important.

“There are eight organs we can use for donation. The kidneys we count as two, the lungs we count as two, the heart, the liver, the pancreas, and the small intestines. Then you can save an additional 50 people with the donation of tissue such as bone, or cornea or skin and that sort of thing,” said Dwain Cooper of the Carolina Donor Services.

Right now, more than 100,000 Americans are waiting for an organ transplant. Three thousand of them live in North Carolina.

You can sign up to be an organ donor at the DMV when you get your driver’s license or at www.donatelifenc.org.

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Story summary

Monday, we met a man whose step-daughter’s death gave others a new lease on life. Tuesday, Hailey Winslow introduces us to a woman who would not be here today, if it was not for the generosity of her brother.

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