Edison resident Lori Smith recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of her life-saving kidney transplant at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center. Smith’s journey serves as a testament to the importance of organ and tissue donation, as well as its profound impact on her life and family. Since her successful transplant, Smith has become a passionate advocate for NJ Sharing Network, a nonprofit organization responsible for organ and tissue recovery in New Jersey. She hopes to encourage more people to register as donors by sharing her own story.
In 2012, Smith’s health began to deteriorate, and she was eventually diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy, a rare kidney disease. Despite her husband, four daughters, and friends undergoing evaluations for transplant compatibility, none of them were strong matches. However, thanks to Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center’s Living Donor Kidney Exchange Program, Smith found a donor match in Barbara Miller of Cobleskill, N.Y. Miller, inspired by her grandson’s successful kidney transplant, donated her kidney to Smith. In return, Smith’s daughter Tara donated her kidney to another recipient, sparking a living kidney donor chain that saved five lives through transplantation.
Over the past decade, Smith has embraced her second chance at life. She cherishes moments with her family, including becoming a grandmother, and enjoys activities she once thought impossible. Smith’s story highlights the ongoing need for organ and tissue donors, with over 100,000 Americans, including nearly 4,000 in New Jersey, currently awaiting life-saving transplants. To learn more about organ and tissue donation and to join the National Donate Life Registry, visit NJ Sharing Network’s website.