Edison Resident Lori Smith Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary of Her Life-Saving Kidney Transplant, Inspiring Hope and Advocacy for Organ and Tissue Donation

(Edison, NJ) - Lori Smith, 59, of Edison, NJ, marked a significant milestone in her life on December 16, 2023 - the 10-year anniversary of her life-saving kidney transplant at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center. Her journey highlights the importance of organ and tissue donation and the powerful impact it has had on her life and family.

“Every day feels like a gift. I wake up grateful for the simple joys - being present for my family, sharing laughter with friends, and relishing experiences I once thought impossible. This second chance at life has allowed me to embrace every moment with boundless appreciation,” said Lori.

Since her successful kidney transplant, Lori is passionate about advocating for NJ Sharing Network, the nonprofit organization responsible for the recovery of donated organs and tissue in the Garden State. She actively shares her story with others to encourage more people to register as organ and tissue donors.

“It's not just about my journey; it's about creating awareness and giving hope to those waiting for a life-saving transplant,” said Lori.

In 2012, Lori felt extremely weak for a long stretch of time. Thinking she had the flu or a severe cold, she went to a local urgent care center.

“They rushed me to the hospital where doctors told me my kidneys were failing,” said Lori, who had been diagnosed in 1994 with IgA Nephropathy, a rare kidney disease.

Lori’s condition continued to worsen until she began dialysis treatments and was placed on the kidney transplant waiting list in January 2013. Lori’s husband, Marc; their four daughters, Ariana, Tara (donated), Marissa, and Annaliese; and several friends were evaluated for transplant compatibility, but none of them were a strong match.

Thanks to Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center’s Living Donor Kidney Exchange Program, Lori found a match for a successful transplant that saved her life. Barbara Miller of Cobleskill, NY, and formerly of Sparta, NJ, selflessly donated one of her kidneys in exchange for Tara (Lori’s daughter) donating one of her kidneys to someone else. Their acts of kindness helped spark a living kidney donor chain that saved five lives through transplant.

Barbara was inspired to altruistically donate one of her kidneys after her grandson’s life was saved thanks to a successful kidney transplant.

“My grandson is now 13 years old, and he’s doing great. I am so happy that Lori has been able to live life to its fullest and watch her daughters grow. I would do it again if I could,” said Barbara.

In the past decade, Lori and Barbara have remained in touch, and Lori has embraced life's moments with newfound appreciation. Lori relishes being present for her family, cherishing milestones like becoming a grandmother and enjoying activities she once thought impossible, like attending New York Mets games with her loved ones.

“I get to wake up in the morning and enjoy my family and granddaughter. I get to go out with my friends. I am able to walk and keep up and enjoy the family,” said Lori.

According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), there are over 100,000 Americans – nearly 4,000 of whom live in New Jersey – waiting for a life-saving transplant. To learn more, get involved, and join the National Donate Life Registry as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.

PHOTO CAPTION – Lori Smith embraces her daughter Tara Smith (Photo Credit: Courtesy of NJ Sharing Network)

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