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Cape May, NJ Mother of Three Grateful for Gift of Life and Motherhood

Christina Dermott Joins Gift of Life Institute’s Transplant Pregnancy Registry International for 25th Anniversary Celebration

Cape May, NJ resident, Christina Dermott, got married young and looked forward to a full and healthy life with her husband and family.  She always knew that she wanted to have children, but since the age of 20 she wasn’t sure if that was a realistic possibility.

christina-and-husband

Throughout her life, Christina was energetic and athletic.  She started playing softball in 5th grade and fell in love with being active outdoors, and sports generally. In high school, she played volleyball, basketball, indoor soccer and softball.   For years, her husband and brother have owned a landscaping business, and she enjoyed being hands on and working with them.  Her life was filled with movement, energy, and spending quality time with her family.

In 2000, everything changed.  From a picture of health, Christina woke up one morning and could barely walk. The pain in her knees was unbearable and she had no idea what was going on.  “I had so much pain, I couldn’t walk.” said Christina.  “I pushed myself for two weeks and then I said to my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore.  It continued to get worse and I had to quit my job.  I had to be in a wheelchair and my Dad had to take me to all of my doctor’s appointments because I needed help getting in and out of the car.”

Christina’s physical health was deteriorating.  Doctors told her that she may have Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus, but there was no conclusive diagnosis.  It wasn’t until she called the Lupus Foundation and switched doctors that her journey towards healing began.  Through testing, doctors confirmed that she had Lupus.  She tried five different medications until one finally seemed to help.  Then she received another blow.  Her doctor told her that her kidneys were failing.  After years of struggling to get her Lupus under contchristinas-three-boysrol, she was now faced with another obstacle – all before the age of 30.

“In 2004, my nephrologist told me that my kidney function was getting worse, so I received chemo to try to help.” said Christina. “I had two rounds of chemo over several years, but my kidneys didn’t improve.  By 2009, my kidneys had failed and my doctor told me that I would need a kidney transplant.  My family was really supportive, and so many people offered to be tested to be a donor for me.  My husband and my brother were both matches.”

Her husband was able to be her donor and she received the gift of life in 2009.  Since she recovered, she feels great. “People who don’t know about my transplant, aren’t even aware that I was sick. Everyone always says that I look healthy.  I still have Lupus and take medicine, but I feel good.” said Christina. There was one life goal that Christina hadn’t been able to reach before receiving her transplant – she wanted to have children.

She always thought that she’d be a young mother, but because of her illness and kidney failure, having children in her 20s was unrealistic.  By the time she was 30 and received a kidney transplant, having a baby was at the forefront of her thoughts. She knew that she could adopt if she was unable to have a biological child, but giving birth was something that she longed to do.

She consulted with her doctor and made sure that her creatinine levels were good.  After she was given the okay, Christina and her husband, Chris, were successful and she became pregnant.  They welcomed their first child, Levi, in 2012.  “I had no complications with my pregnancy, but at my last appointment my blood pressure was high so they induced me.  After 37 hours of labor, Levi was born.  He’s now four and healthy.”

While she was pregnant, Christina reached out to Gift of Life Institute’s Transplant Pregnancy Registry International (TPR), an organization that studies the outcomes of pregnancies in female organ transplant recipients and those fathered by male transplant recipients.  The TPR is an ongoing study that was created in 1991 by the late Vincent T. Armenti, MD, PhD, and the information collected has helped countless transplant recipients make family planning decisions.  Since Levi’s birth, Christina has continued to work with the TPR.  She has been blessed with two other boys – Hunter, 2, and Colton, born just over two months ago.

christinas-children

The TPR is the only pregnancy registry of its kind in the world.  Over the past 25 years, TPR has tracked the pregnancies and births of more than 2,500 individuals, and has worked with 250 transplant centers throughout North America.  In October 2016, TPR opened its participation to any transplant recipient in the world, due to the number of international requests for information and participation.

To celebrate its 25 years of success, the TPR hosted an educational symposium and celebratory dinner in Philadelphia on October 21st.  Christina, along with other local organ transplant recipients, transplant surgeons and medical professionals joined TPR for this exciting event.

About Gift of Life Institute:  Since its inception in 2004, Gift of Life Institute has trained more than 7,500 donation and transplantation professionals from over 35 countries.  The Institute utilizes a number of modalities—including traditional classroom training, eLearning, and virtual classroom training—to deliver education on family communication and authorization for organ and tissue donation, DCD, and hospital development.  For more information, visit www.giftoflifeinstitute.org.

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