October 1, 2012 at 6:01 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - What can you say about a West Orange Mom that owns her own home based business; is raising twin teenaged boys and two stepdaughters; has been married to her true soul mate for 4 years; and decided to donate a kidney to celebrate her life? You say, meet Diane Allen, a most remarkable woman and Good Samaritan that seems to have truly learned the secret that in giving, you truly receive.
Diane is 47 years old and her husband Dave is 50. Diane has two twin boys, Allan and Stephen Morancie, 16, who attend West Orange High School. Her husband, Dave, has two daughters, Natalie, 25, and Caitlin, 22. Four years ago, they met and married within months, knowing they had each found their "soul mate." They moved into their current residence in the St. Cloud area, where Diane works out of her home as a massage therapist. Calling her business "A Mother's Touch" she seeks to rejuvenate women that were always giving of themselves to their families. The couple also began the task of developing an 'Edible Landscape' on their property. But there was a longing to do 'more.' Diane and Dave often laughed at how Diane would always say 'I would give a kidney to that person' when speaking of people she held in high regard, and one day, it clicked. Because the two already had four children between them, their gift of life and love would be Diane's Good Samaritan gift of a kidney to an unknown recipient.
The couple contacted the Living Donor Institute at St. Barnabas Hospital in West Orange. The Institute was the first to use a Robot Assistant during a kidney transplant. In 2011, the Institute performed 295 transplants, and 137 were Living Donor transplants. Over 100,000 Americans are currently in need of kidney transplants. The reasons vary from the damage caused by diabetes to abuse of Aleve, Motrin and Advil. (Abuse of tylenol can lead to liver damage.)
After a stringent screening process between March, 2012, and August 21, when Diane had the surgery, St. Barnabas performed and required multiple tests, including psychiatric sessions, social worker sessions, CAT Scans, MRIs, Ultrasounds, and Blood Work to ensure that Diane was healthy both physically and psychologically to participate in the Living Donor program. All procedures were covered by St. Barnabas, including insurance, through the operation and recuperation period. There are three types of living donations: the first is Direct. Let's say your child needs a kidney. You, your spouse, your child or a family member is a compatible donor. You (or they) donate. The second type of Living Donation is a Paired Exchange. In this scenario, for example, there are two couples. The wife in one couple needs a kidney and the husband in the other needs a kidney. However, their spouse is not compatible as a donor for them - but they are for the other couple. The third type of donation is the Good Samaritan donation, where a person donates to an unknown recipient. This is what Diane chose. The interesting part of this is that in doing so, a living 'chain' is created. Diane donated her kidney, but a member of the recipient's family donated a kidney to an unknown recipient, and so forth, down the line. Currently, Diane's Good Samaritan donation has set off a chain that has produced 19 kidney donations from New York City to San Francisco. She would love to meet the recipient of her kidney donation, who lives in New York City, in the near future.
The transplant procedure was originally called a "Shark Bite" surgery. It was quite invasive and left a huge scar across the lower part of the body. Recovery times was several weeks long. Now, the procedure is done laparoscopically, and scarring, as well as recuperation time, is minimal. Diane likened it to having a C-Section. She said that there are many misconceptions about living donor donations, and said that it in no way limits her life. In fact, she mentioned that a donor's remaining kidney usually grows an additional 50%.
Advocacy for increased knowledge about the process of living organ donation and transplantation is not limited to St. Barnabas hospital. If someone is need of a kidney transplant, there is a clearinghouse that they can register at, called http://www.kidneyregistry.org/ Additionally, more information is available at St. Barnabas' Living Donor Institute at http://www.barnabashealth.org/services/renal/donor/team-sbmc.html.
Currently, Diane and her husband continue to work on their Edible Landscape, raise their children, and feel blessed to have helped so many lives. Diane's credo draws from a quote by Benjamin Franklin: "The most important days of a person's life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why". She hopes that others out there will realize their potential to help save lives with a Living Donation.
You can contact Diane Allen at http://www.amotherstouchnj.com.