INDIANAPOLIS -- It is one of the most selfless gifts a person can give: the gift of life, through an organ donation.
IU Health brought a very special group of people together Thursday night at the Indiana Convention Center for a reunion for kidney donors and their recipients.
"I didn't really have lot of hope at the end," Angela Magno, a kidney recipient, said. "I didn't think I would make it to see my daughter's wedding."
A few years ago, Magno was starting to see the repercussions from a difficult pregnancy more than 15 years ago. Both her kidneys were completely damaged.
As a nurse, Magno understood what that meant for her.
"I was more aware of what was going on and the state I was in and the desperate situation I was in," Magno said.
Magno put out a plea for help on Facebook to help find a kidney match. Two people responded to her request. The first ended up not being able to physically donate. The second responder saved her life.
"It was a big surprise," Magno said. "It was a miracle. Bonnie is incredible, she is brave and strong, and my role model now."
Magno's donor, Bonnie Hensley, was her babysitter as a child.
"It was one of those paths that wasn't really straight," Hensley said. "It was a great match."
Bonnie's decision to give changed the life forever for Magno and her family.
"Why not get tested?" Hensley asked. "It doesn't mean you have to do it. It might mean you do it in ten years or it might mean you never do it. If you don't get tested, you will never know if you could have the opportunity to have helped someone. I know that Angela gets to see her daughter graduate from high school and go to college now."
Hensley, a recently retired lieutenant with the Indianapolis Fire Department, is just one of the many examples why Dr. John Powelson feels privileged to work with kidney donors.
"She has volunteered to run into burning down buildings and take people out, and now she volunteers to donate a kidney. Not even a kidney to a close family member, but just someone. An extraordinary person," says Dr. John Powelson, a transplant surgeon at IU Health. "My experience with donors is that I would call them modern-day heroes because they are extremely altruistic."
A donor's choice to give and take on the opportunity to help another leaves families eternally grateful.
"I'm extremely healthy," Magno said. "I owe her my life. She saved my life."
Hensley asks for everyone to at least consider being a kidney donor, to give yourself that option to help someone else in this very special way.
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