Young woman receives life saving kidney transplant in NJ

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Young woman receives life saving kidney transplant. Nora Muchanic reports during Action News at 6 on April 20. (WPVI)

April is national donate life month, and a program in New Jersey is doing just that.

Twenty-year-old Jamie Westphal of Medford is recovering from a lifesaving kidney transplant she underwent March 21 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

The domino transplant involved a group of 18 donors and recipients from around the country, including an aunt in California.

Jamie said, "I can't even like explain that someone giving their organ for you is like - amazing."

Jamie was diagnosed with kidney failure 2-years-ago, the day before she was to start the nursing program at Stockton University.

Her mother Lori started a Facebook page called "Finding Jamie a kidney."

She said, "Well it was my mission. You know she's my daughter, that's all I wanted. I just want her to be able to go on and finish college and have a great life and not be on dialysis."

One of the people who responded to the Facebook post was Burlington county freeholder Linda Hughes who turned out to be a match for Jamie.

Doctors eventually found an even closer match, but Hughes decided she still wanted to donate a kidney, and next Tuesday she'll be part of a chain donation that will provide new kidneys to seven people.

Hughes said, "It's something that's ingrained in me, similar reason why I'm in public service, that if there's something I can do to help someone, that's what I want to do."

Hughes will miss four weeks of work at Bayada home healthcare in Evesham.

"In return I'm giving someone decades more life," she said.

It's been a rough few years for Jamie and her family who are grateful that the chain of donations and transplants went well. A new kidney means a new life for Jamie.

"Thank you. I can't even explain how amazing that is," she said.

At this point between the two donation chains involving Linda Hughes and Jamie Westfall, fifteen people are getting life-saving kidney transplants.
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