New kidney gives woman a second chance at life

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Organ donation doesn’t always have to happen after someone dies. 

When Mallory Delaney decided to donate her kidney to someone in need, it changed both of their lives forever. April is National Donate Life Month, something that Mallory holds close to her.

“It’s something that I knew that I wanted to do from when I was really young,” Mallory said.

That drive is what saved Samantha Junor’s life.

“So I got up in pain and went to bed in pain and it was just my normal,” Samantha said.

Samantha found out she inherited Polycystic Kidney Disease or PKD from her dad at 27.

“I’m lucky enough that no one in my personal life needs a kidney,” Mallory said. “So it’s easier to just direct it into whoever needs it.”

“It was from a living donor, I did not know her, it was a total stranger,” Samantha said. “She decided to share her life with mine and as a result of that, here I am.”

This new kidney would give her a second chance at life.

“Because I feel so much better because of the transplant I was able to adopt a newborn baby,” Samantha said. “I’m a new mom. So I have two women in my life that completely changed the trajectory of it. So I’m grateful, forever grateful.”

The two women were able to meet after Samantha sent Mallory a letter after the surgery.

“Two strangers, we probably would have never crossed paths but because she has such a loving heart and a willingness to share her life, we met,” Samantha said.

The surgery was also extremely important to the medical community in New York. Samantha was the first in the state to receive a kidney by robotic transplant.

“You can make a small incision – about 5 centimeters – and you can do the whole operation in that,” Dr. Randeep Kashyap said. “So it’s a game changer I say.”

Kashyap was the one to perform Samantha’s transplant and save her life.

BEKKA FIFIELD: “And do you feel a sense of accomplishment after each of these surgeries that you perform?”

KASHYAP: “Oh yeah, I do.”

In transplant surgeries, the initial recovery is not that long. Kashyap says most are able to leave the hospital two days after surgery.

“I had my kidney taken out on a Tuesday and that Saturday I was playing with the choir at church,” Mallory said.

And the best type of donor? Living ones like Mallory.

“This is the best way we can get a transplant,” Kashyap said. “Because the kidneys or the livers of the donors last longer, they work right away and these patients need very less strong medications down the line.”

The fourth anniversary of the transplant is coming up next month.

“I call my donor,” Samantha said. “I call her and I thank her.”

Samantha says she is forever grateful to Mallory for this new chance and that she owes it to her to take care of the kidney.

“There’s no bigger gift than giving a part of yourself,” Kashyap said.

There is always a need for living organ donors and if you want to start the process to become one, click here.