Gift of Life helps save local EMT, single mom's life with double organ transplant

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thirty-five-year-old Stacey Rodenas was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 11.

"I spent a lot of time in CHOP," Rodenas reveals, "You want to have a normal life like everybody else does."

After graduating high school, she became an EMT, wanting to help people in their time of need.

"I'm used to emergencies every day," Rodenas states. "Sometimes they just need you to be that kind hand to be there, because that's what you know, I needed."

When Rodenas became pregnant with her son, her diabetes triggered complications.

"I ended up having really bad hypertension, ended up having him about a month early," Rodenas describes.

The high blood pressure combined with her spiking and sinking blood sugar levels wreaked havoc on her kidneys.

"At the point where it was too late. It was, you know, your kidneys are failing," says Rodenas.

Howard M. Nathan, President and CEO of the Gift of Life Donor Program explains, "Those who suffer from diabetes often have kidney failure from their diabetes."

"It takes a toll on you, you become exhausted. I had to think about my son and what was gonna happen with him," Rodenas bares.

By the time her son turned 6, Rodenas had to go on kidney dialysis

Rodenas says, "I swear he's superhuman human. I try to explain it to him, you know he's more interested in Minecraft and all that all other stuff. Honestly, I don't want to burden him with it.

He's a kid, he needs to be a kid."

Rodenas was added to the Gift of Life donor list, in need of new kidneys and a pancreas.

"The concept of combined kidney-pancreas transplant is to cure both their kidney failure and their diabetes at the same time," expands Howard.

According to Gift of Life, there are about 450 Hispanics in our region in need of organ transplants.

"In fact, about 80% of those people waiting in the Hispanic community are waiting for a kidney," continues Howard.

Just one day after she was put on the list, Rodenas got the call.

"At 11:30 p.m. at night, I answered the phone and they said, "Hey, this is Jefferson transplant." I was extremely shocked because I'm like, this is not happening, you expect to wait on the list for a significant amount of time," Rodenas exclaims.

Now, Rodenas is able to live the normal life she's always dreamed of.

"My son got his mom back. We were able to go to Disney," Rodenas pronounces.

She doesn't know the donor, but says she often thinks about them.

Says Rodenas, "Their sacrifice and their struggle is something that helped me get back to my normal life."

She wears a ring to honor them.

"It has green and white stones in it, green is for the Gift of Life. The white stone is for my donor and how unbelievably grateful I am. Truly just amazing," edifies Rodenas.

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