Hudson woman grateful for successful kidney donation

Gail Weisberg (center) holds her sign looking for an ‘angel’ to donate her kidney. (Picture/submitted)

HUDSON/MARLBOROUGH — A long-awaited and once-delayed kidney donation operation involving a pair of local residents went successfully on Tuesday.

Today, Gail Weisberg and Debbie Munley, who donated her kidney to Weisberg, are recovering and looking to the future.

“I think Debbie is a miracle, an angel,” Weisberg told the Community Advocate before the surgery. “It’s a gem to want to help a stranger and it’s amazing that it’s happening.”

The donation comes from a meeting in the Target parking lot

A resident of Hudson, Weisberg had kidney disease throughout her life. However, she has notably spent the past two and a half years undergoing daily dialysis treatments while remaining on a waiting list for a kidney donation.

Weisberg created a website as part of his kidney research, with about 200 people volunteering to donate.

Of the 200, however, only around nine were considered viable possibilities. Getting a match from them was further complicated when the transplant unit at Mass General Hospital, where Weisberg planned to have surgery, was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors also found problems in some of the voluntary donors that prevented kidney donation.

After that, Weisberg began sharing signs asking an “angel” to donate a kidney.

It was then that Munley met Weisberg.

Munley, a Marlborough resident, noticed one of the signs on Weisberg’s car in a Target parking lot in Marlborough. She reached out and told Weisberg she was interested in helping.

Munley then began the process by giving her information to the hospital and doing some tests.

In the end, she and Weisberg were a match.

Transplant surgery was originally scheduled for February 15. Weisberg and Munley were moments away from continuing the operation on that date when a preoperative test revealed a potential problem in Munley’s echocardiogram stress test. The operation was delayed and Weisberg resumed his search for a kidney, before later tests showed the problem was just an abnormality.

The operation was restarted. And the doctors were able to schedule a new surgery date for this week.

Weisberg seeks to help others get kidneys

While on dialysis, Weisberg also experienced a number of other health issues, including breast cancer, congestive heart failure, a broken hip and a stroke.

She also caught COVID-19 during a hospital stay, which required her to be hospitalized for four weeks.

“[The doctors] say I’m the healthiest, sickest person they’ve ever met,” Weisberg said.

After all those challenges, however, Weisberg said in a post-surgery phone call Friday that the transplant was successful.

With plans to return home on Saturday, Weisberg previously noted larger advocacy plans.

She mentioned the walks the National Kidney Foundation organizes each year, including a recent one in Waltham that she attended.

In total, more than 90,000 people in the United States have been on kidney transplant pending lists since last year. Weisberg noted that many people don’t realize they can live with just one kidney.

“I try to help other people get kidneys,” Weisberg said. “I had my miracle, but so many other people need miracles.”


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