Gift of Life Donor Program connects lives

June 28, 2011 9:30:52 PM PDT
The Gift of Life Donor Program in Philadelphia was able to find matches for five people who needed kidneys after their loved ones decided to donate their own to the program.

It's the first time something like this has been done in our region.

"I feel good. I feel fantastic. I have energy. I have a new lease on life, it's great," kidney recipient Jacqueline Blazaskie from Peckville, Pa. said.

Jacqueline got her transplant in April.

Her sister, Chris Yusavage, made her donation in May.

"I was never able to help in any way because I wasn't a match for her so this was a great opportunity," donor Chris said.

For the first time, Jacqueline met her donor, Rosemaria Crowder, whose husband received a kidney from someone else.

"If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have my family, my friends, my husband, everything," Jacqueline said.

"It was a wonderful experience, just great, every day I thought of her," Rosemaria said.

A chart was made showing who benefited from each donation. It had many arrows and it looked pretty complicated, but the people on it say there is something simple about this whole thing. It's all about giving someone another chance at life.

Anne Peniazek was the Good Samaritan who started the chain.

"Well, it just seemed like a no brainer," Anne said.

The Gift of Life Program says in the tri-state area more than 5,200 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list.

65-year-old Peniazek donated after she saw a sign for the organization on the highway.

"I just happen to be the right person at the right time and it's a great, fun thing to do," Anne said.

Peniazek was out shopping just a few days after her surgery.

She's hoping someone, who's able, will follow her lead to help save lives.