Auckland woman Minja Ivelja is celebrating a significant milestone as she marks 50 years since her life-saving kidney transplant. This makes her one of the longest surviving kidney recipients in Australasia. In the 1970s, Ivelja’s health was in critical condition due to failing kidneys. However, a deceased donor’s kidney in 1974 turned her life around, allowing her not only to survive but to thrive. Since then, Ivelja has built a successful clothing company, raised a daughter, witnessed the growth of her grandsons, and traveled the world. Her story serves as an inspiration to many, highlighting the power of organ donation.
Dr. Joanne Ritchie of Organ Donation New Zealand and nephrologist Dr. Helen Pilmore stress the transformative and life-saving potential of organ donations. They emphasize the importance of discussing potential donorship with loved ones. Ivelja’s exceptional case exemplifies the profound impact a successful transplant can have on a recipient’s life. She hopes that sharing her experience will encourage others to consider organ donation and potentially save more lives. Ivelja and her family annually honor the donor’s gift at the Transplant Thanksgiving Service, acknowledging the donor’s part in her journey of gratitude and hope.