Kidney Donation: Sister to Sister

All three of Davinya Avery’s sisters wanted to be her kidney donor. When two came back as a match, the oldest sister settled the question.

Davinya Avery looks both younger and older than her 30 years. Younger, when she’s joking and laughing with her sister and kidney donor, Damitra Avery-Parker; older, when she’s talking about the monthly doctor visits she has endured since she was diagnosed at 19 with glomerulonephritis, a chronic kidney disease.

“I used to get a physical once a year so I could play sports in high school,” Davinya says. “Then after I was diagnosed, it was doctor’s visits every month, sometimes every two weeks, constant blood work, medication, hospitalization.” Just speaking about the grueling regimen seems to tire her out. “A lot of stuff hit me all at one time,” she says. Damitra nods her head in silent support.

As soon as she was diagnosed, Davinya’s three sisters volunteered to become donors. Yet she waited 10 years before going through with it. “At first, I was scared,” she admits. “But as time passed, I knew I wanted to marry and have children—to move on with my life.”

All three sisters were tested, and two came back as a match. Damitra—the oldest sister, and a mother of three—settled the question of who would be the donor with the same pragmatic, irrefutable logic that a big sister might use to stake her claim to ride in the front seat of the car. “”I’m the oldest, I’ll go,” she said.

Less than six months later—after a whirlwind of MRIs, ultrasounds, blood work, nutrition work, as the RMTI team prepared both sisters for what to expect—the two surgeries took place in March 2012. (Davinya’s surgeon was Michael J. Goldstein, MD, Surgical Director of Kidney Transplantation; Damitra’s was Juan Rocca, MD, Surgical Director of Live Donor Kidney Transplantation.)

Two weeks after the surgery, both sisters were recovering well. “I thank Damitra every day from the bottom of my heart,” she says, turning to her sister. “It’s a powerful thing. I want to thank you for giving me a second chance.”

Davinya shrugs off the notion that she did anything special. “I would do it again,” she says. “I would never second-guess my choice.”