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Robert O Reward Far Greater than Struggle For Living Kidney Donor and Rec

“Preparing for the surgery was made easier by all the information and support we received from the renal transplant coordinators, physicians and social worker. We were educated and kept up- todate every step of the way,” Mr. Orange said.

When Robert Orange opened the door to his local church in Jersey City on a fall evening back in 1998, he came face-to-face with a person who would change his life forever.

According to Mr. Orange, it was “love-at-first-sight” when he encountered his future wife, Cherie, on her way out of Christ the King Church. “I just knew I had to get to know this woman. Little did I know that she was going to impact my life the way she has. I am a very blessed man.”

From that day on, Mr. and Mrs. Orange were inseparable and the couple ultimately married in October of 2000. At the time, Mr. Orange, 51, was suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease. His kidneys had failed after a heart attack six years earlier, which necessitated him being placed on dialysis. Like many dialysis patients, Mr. Orange would spend three days a week for four hours a day at a dialysis center in Jersey City. While he kept up his spirits, just happy to have found his soul mate, being on dialysis for nearly 10 years was taking its toll on his physical health. His physicians at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an affiliate of RWJBarnabas Health, listed him on the renal transplant registry. He and Mrs. Orange realized a transplant was his only hope for living a longer, more productive life.

“One day on our way home from dialysis, Cherie announced she was detouring to Newark Beth so she could be tested as a living donor. I was shocked and thrilled at the same time. I was happy that she was willing to do this for me, but I didn’t want to get too excited because it was a long shot that we would be compatible,” Mr. Orange said.

Added Mrs. Orange, “For a while, even before I met Robert, I had been wondering what my purpose in life would be. After meeting and marrying him, the idea of family took on a whole new meaning. I prayed on it. I knew I had to do all I could for him. He is my husband and I take my marriage vows seriously. I wanted Robert to have a better quality of life.”

Fortunately for Mr. Orange, his wife was a match. On February 27, 2003, he received her kidney. Stuart Geffner, M.D., led the surgical team removing Mrs. Orange’s left kidney. In the adjacent operating room, Steven Guy, M.D., prepared Mr. Orange to receive his wife’s kidney. The donor nephrectomy was performed laparoscopically. Four hours later, the couple was in recovery. Mrs. Orange stayed in the hospital for two days, while her husband remained as an inpatient for five days.

“Preparing for the surgery was made easier by all the information and support we received from the renal transplant coordinators, physicians and social worker. We were educated and kept up-todate every step of the way,” Mr. Orange said.

According to Carmen Flores, RN, transplant coordinator, thorough screening of prospective living kidney donors and recipients as well as extensive counseling from social workers is customary. Donors must also understand the extent of the operation and that organs must be donated without the expectation or any form of compensation.

Eighteen months later, the couple find themselves back at the dialysis center on a regular basis. Only now, they are there to speak with patients, their family members and friends about the Living Donor Program at the Renal and Pancreas Transplant Center at Newark Beth Israel. According to Mrs. Orange, her husband “is a super advocate for organ donation. Everywhere he goes, he tells our story – even in the supermarket.”

“It’s our calling. This is our way of giving back for all our good fortune, for all the friends we have made and for all blessings we have received. Cherie and I know what has happened to us is all part of a bigger plan and we’ll do whatever we can to help others,” Mr. Orange said.