An Intestinal Transplant Recipient's Mission to Help Others Like Her

Grateful for the support she received from family and friends, Noa Walsky wants other small bowel transplant patients to have the benefit of a similar support system.

In 2008 Noa Walsky was in the best shape of her life, but something felt off. Now and then, she felt a lump in her belly that she affectionately called “her grapefruit.” Because it wasn't always noticeable, she didn't worry much about it. But six months later, she felt it again, and her parents—a surgeon and nurse— also felt the lump.

An MRI revealed a desmoid tumor in June 2009. Desmoid tumors develop in the body's fibrous tissue and can become very large. They are considered benign because they don't metastasize like cancerous tumors do, but they can cause serious damage to internal organs because they often attack adjacent muscle tissue.

Noa’s tumor had to be removed – but in order to do so, surgeons needed to remove her entire small bowel. As a result, Noa needed to receive an intestinal transplant and was placed on the national wait list. In December 2009,she received her transplant at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Noa requires a lifetime of follow-up care to make sure her body doesn't reject her new intestines. While she was tremendously grateful for the gift of transplantation – Noa had to cope with the stress of maintaining the high costs of staying healthy. She was out of work for long periods of time, and the cost of her medications was exorbitant.

Last November, Noa (pictured above, 2nd from the right) turned 30. She chose to celebrate her birthday and her transplant by helping others. She contacted the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) to see how she could help other small bowel transplant patients. This call led to the creation of the NFT's Small Bowel Fund. She asked her friends to make a donation to this fund in lieu of giving her a birthday gift. About 50 people attended the party, raising nearly $6,000. Noa has relied on the help of her family and friends during her long recovery process, and she's grateful for their support. She wanted to begin this fund to help others who may not have the same kind of support system. And she has done just that. To contribute to this fund please contact the NFT