Rachel Dalomba must believe in Santa Claus. Ms. Dalomba appeared on Monday’s TODAY with Ann Curry where she told the story of her own Christmas miracle. Each of Dalomba’s twin daughters, age ten, had just received new kidneys from a trauma victim who was an organ donor.
"The snow and everything this time of year — it really felt like we were getting a great Christmas gift," Dalomba told Ann Curry. Dalomba was referring to the fact that her daughters, Nelly and Anji Polanco, got their childhoods back through the generosity of an organ donor. The girls also made a new entry in the medical record books.
The kidney transplants were performed by two teams totaling approximately 30 staff members at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
"If it wasn’t for this person believing in organ donation, this wouldn’t’ have happened so quickly," Dalomba said in the interview from the Chicago hospital. "I just want to thank the donor family. They’re going through a lot right now."
Dr. Riccardo Superina, the head of the transplant team, stated that the competition for donor organs is fierce because the demand is high and the supply is limited. Therefore, when two kidneys become available from a single donor, they’re normally sent to different recipients. Under normal circumstances, Dalomba’s daughters would have received their kidneys at different times.
Before their first birthday, Dalomba’s twins were diagnosed with cystinosis, a rare and incurable genetic condition that causes tissue abnormalities, mostly affecting the kidneys and eyes. Children with this condition generally experience kidney failure before age ten. The girls’ kidneys had failed early this year and both were on dialysis. Still, the girls remained in school.
Because both of the girls were diagnosed with the same condition, Dalomba was thrown into a unique situation. She related to NBC News that because she is a single mother, it would have been extremely difficult – perhaps impossible – for her to care for one daughter with a new kidney and another who still had to be taken back and forth to dialysis.
"One person trying to go back and forth with all of this would be really hard," Dalomba said, "So they tried to have some consideration for me and asked for this exception."
Five days after the transplant, both girls were able to sit with Dalomba and Superina on a sofa.
"They’re doing a lot better," Dalomba said. "They’re back to themselves. They’re happy and then grumpy back and forth."