Baton Rouge sisters celebrate 10 year kidney transplant

Want others to give the gift of life

Monday, December 27, 2010 - 5:38pm

BATON ROUGE, La (WGMB) -- Two Baton Rouge sisters celebrate ten years of good health, a reminder of the sacrifice one made for the other to save her life.

The bond between sisters is normally pretty special, but these two women share even more than that. "I do feel like she is a part of me," says Constant Young. "She's a part of me now."

Constant Young has one of her sister's kidneys. She suffers from Lupus, a disease caused by a problem in the immune system. It can damage any part of the body, and twelve years ago, her kidneys stopped working. "I was just really devastated," she remembers. "It was like I was in a fog that whole day. It was just so unexpected."

Her younger sister, Sylvia Winder, came to her rescue. "I didn't even hesitate," she says. "Of course I would do that." Sylvia gave Constant the gift of life.

"I have one sister and she matched me, so its just amazing to me. Its really, truly a gift," says Constant. When she first noticed the kidney was working, she was amazing. The pain, which had been a constant in her life for almost as long as she can remember, was gone. Ten years later, she's better than ever.

"This is the tenth year since the transplant, and I always celebrate this as my rebirth day," she says with a smile.

Constant's new kidney comes with a purpose. She volunteers with various organ donor groups to help raise awareness about the need. Sylvia is similarly involved. "We're both donors," she says. "We have it on our drivers licenses. We talk about it."

They want others to follow their example. "There are still so many people who are scared, and whenever I talk to people about being a donor, I'm saying 'don't be afraid. This is something you can do.'"

The transplant did more than save a life. It breathed new life into the sisters' relationship. "I really just treasure her even more now," says Constant.

This year, the celebrate the gift of time, time they have together. It's an extra ten years, and hopefully much longer, that may have been lost if not for a sister's love.

"My sister did all of this for me, and now I'm going to everything I can to keep it as long as possible."

Constant is one of the lucky Louisiana residents who received a new kidney fairly quickly, but the list of people waiting for an organ is actually very long. According to the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, there are more than 110,000 people on the national waiting list. Here in Lousiana, that number is about 1,800. Of that number, 1,600 are waiting on a kidney.

African Americans are three likely to suffer from a kidney disease, but only 27% of people on the state's donor registries are minorities. The most successful kidney transplants often happen between members of the same ethnic and racial group.

For more information on organ donation in Louisiana, check out http://www.lopa.org/

You can also take a look at www.unos.org.

Also check out http://unos.org/donation/index.php?topic=fact_sheet_2 to learn more about living donations.

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