“I unexpectedly found out that I had a rare kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) after applying to volunteer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1996. For 8 years, I underwent a myriad of tests, scans, biopsies and surgeries. I had to start dialysis in 2004 when my native kidneys failed. I chose the peritoneal dialysis modality so I could perform it at home and work during the day. Basically I had two full-time jobs: saving my life and paying my bills. After enduring being hooked up to my dialysis machine every night for four years, I was given the gift of life and received a kidney transplant on August 26, 2008. I consider this date my new lease on life birthdate and am forever thankful and grateful my donor and hero, Sean Clegg, and his parents, Gail and Andy, for giving me this awe-inspiring second chance!
I am honored to be one of Sean’s living legacies and I strive daily to pay my gift forward. I am extremely fortunate that my personal and professional lives have become intertwined, and am proud to work at Hahnemann University Hospital in the Abdominal Transplant Program, where I’m able to showcase the benefits of transplantation.
If someone would have told me in 1996 when I was diagnosed with FSGS that I would be living such an awesome life post-transplant, I would have thought it was crazy and far from reality. While waiting for my transplant, I dreamed of traveling and getting my passport stamped once again. The gift of life that Sean has given me has allowed me to fulfill this dream. In 2011, my Mom and I were able to go to Paris to celebrate my 40th birthday and to visit Israel in 2012.”
Melissa currently works at Hahnemann University Hospital and is a steadfast volunteer with Gift of Life Donor Program along with her donor, Sean’s, mother, Gail Clegg. We are grateful every day for this awesome pair who work tirelessly to promote organ and tissue donation.