Gina Gartner
Living Donor
Blacksbury, VA
Date Of Donation: 07/21/1998
Hospital: St. Luke's Hospital


This is a story about a large family of eight who grew up in Beaumont, TX.  My parents, Gus and Jeanne brought six children (5 daughters and one son) into the world and taught them many valuable lessons in life, most importantly, love and family.

 

Fast forward to 1981, when I was hospitalized with first illness caused by a normally genetic in nature disease called Polycystic Kidney disease, which afflicts 13 million in the world.  All of my family was told they needed to be tested to see if they too had this gene... Fortunately, none of them had the gene, I was an oddity... I was spontaneous mutant of PKD!  We had never heard of any of this and found out that eventually I would need dialysis and/or a kidney transplant.  I learned to be healthier and took better care of myself.

 

Fast forward again to 1998, when I somehow got the flu even after being vaccinated, in fact all of my pre-k students shared this flu, unfortunately, due to this illness, my kidney function was greatly impaired.  That was in March, by April I was on the list for the need of a kidney.  Now understand, all of my family volunteered to help me, but not all of them were the right blood type or in good health.

 

That is why and when, my younger sister Gina, decided to give me 'The Gift of Life'.  She didn't hesitate, she had already made the decision when she volunteered to be tested with my other siblings... understand Gina has and still continues to give me unconditional love and support, but this GIFT is the heart of generosity and selflessness.  It is her saving me... giving me a second chance to be on this earth. Gina literally became my Hero, my children's Hero and my siblings Hero... A world class Hero...

 

In the next few weeks Gina had to endure many crazy and uncomfortable test and screenings to be allowed to give me the kidney.  We were a match genetically but to look at us (she is 5'9" and I'm 5'2"), we look like Mutt and Jeff physically in height... but that must not be a factor in the donation process because on July 21, 1998 at St. Luke's Hospital, I was given my 'rebirth of life', which happened to fall on our beloved deceased father, Gus Minges's birthday.  I'm sure he was pleased as he watched this generous gift of life, being performed on Earth, from his perch up in heaven.

 

My sister Gina has been living in Blacksburg for many years, she is an architect to married an architect, who teaches at VTech.  She has been very busy taking care of her son, Paul, who just went off to college, but Gina makes sure she and her family comes down to Texas to see us at Christmas and the summer each year.  Family means everything to her, and to me, we make sure to keep in touch weekly (often daily), just as our parents would want us to do.

 

We both continue to thrive, and I know I would not have been able to see my children (Laurel and Bryce) grow up and have these years of a beautiful life, if it hadn't been for her love of family and the grace for her love of her older sister, me.

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