NJ Mom Celebrating 10-year anniversary of Liver Transplant

(above) Renee Reilly after her liver transplant surgery.

NJ Mom Celebrating anniversary of Liver Transplant

NJ Sharing Network

Renee Reilly, a resident of Madison, NJ, is celebrating an incredible milestone as she marks the 10-year anniversary of her life-saving liver transplant. Renee, 52, has not only cherished every moment of her life since her successful transplant but is also passionate about advocating for NJ Sharing Network, the nonprofit organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for transplant in the Garden State. She actively shares her story with others to encourage more people to register as organ and tissue donors.

“I continue to feel overwhelmed, humble, and grateful,” said Renee. “Giving someone a second chance as an organ and tissue donor is such a special and amazing gift of love.”

Renee’s journey began when she was 16 years old and was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). Her father, who also battled PKD, had received a life-saving kidney transplant that gave him an additional 35 years of life. Renee later developed Polycystic Liver Disease (PLD) after giving birth to her two boys. She was added to the liver transplant list in 2009.

(above) Renee and John Reilly after Renee’s life-saving liver transplant.

“Waiting for the liver transplant phone call, I felt hopeless at times, tired, anxious, and I didn’t think I would ever get ‘the call,’” said Renee.

The pivotal moment in Renee’s journey arrived unexpectedly on a day filled with emotional turmoil. Her father had been in the hospital for weeks due to complications from a previous surgery. Renee had just visited him when she received ‘The Call’ from the transplant center.

“I began to cry because I was filled with emotions, from joy and excitement to worry about my family and guilt about receiving such a precious gift. But my husband, John, and my sons, Ian and Brendan, served as a source of strength and kept me focused because they were excited to know that I was going to get a liver transplant,” said Renee.

On August 6, 2013, Renee’s liver transplant surgery was a success, giving her a new lease on life. In 2017, Renee’s kidneys started to fail. Fortunately, she received a kidney transplant in 2018, sparing her from the hardships of dialysis treatments.

(above, l-r) The Reilly family John, Ian, Brendan, and Renee

The transformation in Renee’s life post-transplants has been remarkable. She now enjoys all of her favorite hobbies, including gardening, knitting/crocheting, sewing, and spending time with her family.
“Thanks to my organ donors and the miracle of transplantation, I have been there for unforgettable moments like my boys’ graduations. I am now able to give hugs again without any pain due to my enlarged liver,” said Renee. “Now, I am focused on sharing my story to give hope for those waiting for the gift of life and inspire everyone to register as organ and tissue donors.”

According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), there are over 100,000 Americans – nearly 4,000 of whom live in New Jersey – waiting for a life-saving transplant. One organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 others. To learn more, get involved, and join the National Donate Life Registry as an organ and tissue donor, visit NJSharingNetwork.org.

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