I was given a second chance for a better, healthier life, when, in July 1992, I received a kidney and pancreas transplant. It has always been my desire to help others receive the same amazing gift(s) that I am so grateful for, by spreading the news about the miracles that happen because of organ and tissue donation. Then I began to volunteer at my local organ procurement organization, the Gift of Life Donor Program. Volunteering is very rewarding, and my friendships with many joyful, caring, and brave transplant recipients and donor families are a great blessing.
About five years after receiving my double transplant, I became an In-House Kidney Transplant Coordinator at the Gift of Life and met many transplant professionals including the late Vincent T. Armenti, MD, PhD. He was the transplant surgeon who had started the National Transplantation Pregnancy Registry (NTPR) now known as the Transplant Pregnancy Registry International (TPRI). It was also around this time that I married my husband Alex, and we had questions about the safety of me becoming pregnant. Alex and I met with Dr. Armenti and were happy to learn that, based upon TPRI data and my health, medications, and the length of time since my transplant, pregnancy could be safe.
Our daughters were born via C-section in November 2000 and May 2003. We are all healthy, happy, and my transplant function is normal, now at close to 30 years since my transplant. Being given the chance to give birth to two children is another amazing gift of transplantation. We, including our daughters, are pleased to have met my donor Doug’s family, who I believe know how thankful we all are to know them and for their decision to donate.
When I was pregnant in 2000, a reporter from a large Philadelphia newspaper was interested in writing about my experience. She interviewed Dr. Armenti, Alex and me. Along with my OB, one of my transplant doctors, a photographer, and all the normal staff in the operating room, the reporter was with us in the delivery room, and later published a full two-page story. Following the Philadelphia newspaper story, Family Circle Magazine, then a leading women’s interest publication, published another great article. It continues to make me happy when I hear that others now understand the possibility of a healthy transplant recipient giving birth to a healthy child.
I began working as a Research Coordinator with the TPRI and their very professional, dedicated, and wonderful team in 2008. I love speaking with recipients about our research, hear their experiences and sometimes share my experience with pregnancy post-transplant. I speak with participants by phone or at the US Transplant Games which I attend every year they are held. I represent TPRI at the US Transplant Games by hosting a booth and I could see our Registry participants in person and meet new ones. One of my best memories from the Games was when a very happy and enthusiastic mother of a son born post-transplant approached me with a big hug and thanked me for our research. She had heard my name announced for me to go on stage to receive my Gold Medal for the Softball Throw and ran over to meet me. She told me how grateful she was for her son and felt he would not be here without the information shared by the TPRI.
I’ve been extremely blessed to volunteer and work for the Gift of Life and the Transplant Pregnancy Registry International and to be a part in their mission of helping others and improving the lives of transplant recipients everywhere.
Editor’s note: After this article was written Faith has decided that it was time for her to retire from the TPRI. While the rest of the team is saddened, we will miss her and the unique ability to speak with recipients. We wish her all the best as she embarks on a new chapter of her life as she will be retiring to the NJ shore with Alex and their 2 girls.