The Post-Journal

Area Woman Donates Kidney In Memory Of Late Brother

Jamestown resident Christina Kebort, left, and Lillian Reis.
Jamestown resident Christina Kebort, left, donated her left kidney to Long Island resident Lillian Reis on March 13. Kebort specifically chose that date because it would have been the 40th birthday of her younger brother, who passed in 2016 to kidney failure. Submitted photo.

On what would have been her younger brother’s 40th birthday, Christina Kebort voluntarily went into surgery to save the life of someone she’d only recently met.

Earlier this month Kebort, a Jamestown resident, traveled to New York City to donate a kidney to Long Island resident Lillian Reis. Kebort said she had lost her brother in 2016 to kidney failure, and has since felt compelled to donate in his memory and prevent another family from experiencing what hers had.

“Personally, I felt if I could help prevent someone from going through what my brother went through I would do it,” she said. “All I did was listen to and follow my heart.”

Kebort said she came across a Facebook page, created by Reis’ son, Andrew, in January calling for anyone with Type O-positive blood who would be interested in donating a kidney. Since she fit the bill, Kebort prayed and spoke with family members about it before making her decision. She reached out to Reis and her family and learned Reis’ kidneys were functioning at 16 percent.

“If that number had dropped to 15 percent or lower Lillian would have had to go on dialysis, so as soon as it was found that my antibodies, blood and tissue were a perfect match for her we had to move fairly quickly,” Kebort said. “I chose March 13 because that would have been my brother’s 40th birthday, and I wanted to make a statement that God was saving someone from a disease that had also taken someone from me.”

Christina Kebort, left, and Lillian Reis.
Christina Kebort, left, and Lillian Reis embrace in New York City.

The surgery took place at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where Kebort’s left kidney was removed and placed in Reis’ right side. Kebort said the kidney instantly took and began working, which is not altogether common.

“(The doctors) said it was a million-to-one shot that that would happen, and that’s just proof that God gets the glory because this was literally meant to be,” she said.

Andrew Reis, who created the Facebook page “Team Lillian,” through which Kebort discovered Lillian Reis’ need, said of Kebort: “She is a one-of-a-kind and very special person. She gives without asking, she offers without wanting in return and has a heart filled with love. She is our angel. We just want to thank her for being the driving force and for her support.”

Kebort remained in the hospital until earlier this week, and is expecting to undergo a six-week recovery period. She returned to Jamestown on Tuesday and, according to her Facebook page, she is scheduled to return to her work with Jamestown Public Schools on April 9.

A diagnosis of kidney disease means that a person’s kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood the way they should.

This damage can cause wastes to build up in the body. Kidney disease can cause other health problems, such as heart disease.

In the U.S. the overall prevalence of chronic kidney disease in the general population is approximately 14 percent, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. More than 661,000 Americans have kidney failure. Of these, 468,000 individuals are on dialysis, and roughly 193,000 live with a functioning kidney transplant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kidney disease kills more people than breast or prostate cancer each year. In 2013, more than 47,000 Americans died from kidney disease.

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