| Dialysis | Kidney disease | Patient stories | Transplant

First They Donated Kidneys to Their Fathers and Then They Fell in Love

June 16, 2022, 8:06am EDT

Jessica, Daniel, and their parents dressed up for the wedding

“I have been to South Africa, I donated a kidney, or I have a tattoo” - this game of two truths and a lie was featured prominently on Jessica’s dating profile.

Daniel’s response after reading it? "I'll show you my scar if you show me yours."

Was his cheeky reply correct? It was! Despite all odds, two people who both donated kidneys to their fathers stumbled across each other on an app and fell in love. 

It's a kidney-filled romance movie that has come to life. 

Jessica's decision to donate

Towards the end of 2013, Jessica was working in a small law firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when she and her siblings learned that their father would need a kidney transplant. Despite their shock, she and her brother quickly shifted into problem-solving mode and volunteered to donate.

"My dad's favorite line, which he still says, is 'I didn't raise you for spare parts.' But we looked into it. My brother and I got tested." Jessica said, "We were both a match, and it was the biggest fight he and I have ever had: which one of us was going to be the donor?"

Jessica found the NKF while searching for live kidney donor information and learned everything she could about the procedure. She even signed up for a local Walk before putting her foot down. 

"At the time, financially, situationally, and job-wise, it made more sense for me to do it. So, I pulled the big sister card and said, no, it's going to be me."

In 2014, Jessica officially donated her kidney to her father and began her kidney advocacy journey.

Daniel's decision to donate

In 2012, hundreds of miles away in Atlanta, Georgia, Daniel received similar news about his own father. 

"When my father became ill, we initially thought he had taken a fall and given himself a concussion. After a few days in and out of the E.R., they let him know that his kidneys were almost in complete failure," Daniel said. "After they were able to stabilize his kidney function, he was forced to go on dialysis."

Daniel volunteered to donate his kidney, went through testing, and was cleared to donate.  After the surgery in February 2014, his father returned to his old self. It took Daniel a little longer to recover, but he was living life normally and traveling again within months. 

The perfect match

Life continued for both Jessica and Daniel until 2018 when Daniel was offered a new job opportunity in Philadelphia. He took the chance and relocated–a decision that would forever change his life for the better.

"It's worked out for me both professionally and personally because I met the love of my life." Daniel said, "I met my perfect match. I met my wife."

In May 2019, Jessica and Daniel met in person and quickly discovered they had much more in common than donating kidneys to their fathers. They grew closer and eventually decided to move in together, but COVID-19 began soon after. To protect their remaining kidneys, they carefully quarantined, spent lots of quality time together, and fell deeper in love. They married on the third anniversary of their first date in May 2022.

To celebrate their special day and the extra time with their fathers, Jessica and Daniel decided to forgo party favors and donate to the NKF instead. They created a Team Kidney Your Way campaign, Our Wedding Kidney Page, and started fundraising. 

"I've had eight more years with my dad. He got to walk me down the aisle." said Jessica, "My wedding day was a lot of tears for the joy of marrying my best friend, but also my dad being there and his dad being there. We were able to celebrate everything together. NKF has been a big part of our kidney journey, and we wanted to pay back and say thank you." 

"To see their children get married and all the things they might have missed out on had a donor not been able to step forward." said Daniel, "I think giving them and having those extra years certainly has changed everything in both of our lives."

Join Team Kidney Your Way

If you have a great fundraising idea and want to help support those facing kidney disease, create a Team Kidney Your Way campaign and put it into action. No matter what your event, this platform makes it easy to get involved and receive donations for the National Kidney Foundation.

For Jessica and Daniel, that meant making a donation, handing out kidney-shaped pins, and encouraging their guests to learn more about kidney disease. 

What will it look like for you?

Join Team Kidney Your Way today. We can’t wait to see how you make a difference. 

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