In honor of Donate Life month, we will be highlighting stories of organ donation all month long. Our hope in doing this will be to show the many faces of organ donation and raise awareness of the impact and importance. Today, we share the story of Breanna Sipple, a living kidney donor. Breanna uses the experience from her life-saving surgery to spread awareness about organ donation while continuing to promote people to 'Be More'.
My name is Breanna Sipple. I am a 24 year old artist from South Jersey. I always thought I knew my plan for my life, until God decided to show me another plan he had for me. I didn’t even know living organ donation was “a thing” until I found a touching Facebook story of a young Philadelphia man searching for a kidney for his new wife who was just a year older than me. When I read the story for the first time, I immediately felt God’s presence over my body telling me that I was this stranger’s perfect match. I couldn’t imagine myself in this couple’s shoes; just married and in kidney failure. It didn’t seem fair to me that I was about the same age as the Philadelphia man’s wife and I was as healthy as can be! I cried and prayed but most importantly, I knew I wanted to get tested almost immediately.
I began the process, unbeknownst to my recipient, and after 6 months of extensive testing I was turned down due to “high blood pressure.” I was heart broken. I also knew that once Erin got the call that another potential donor wasn’t a match, her heart would be broken too. During the testing process, I had created a video log to track my journey and emotions. The day I found out I was no longer a candidate to be Erin’s donor, I began editing the video to give to Erin. If I couldn’t be Erin’s donor, I wanted to at least accomplish a couple of things. First, I wanted to give her hope that a complete stranger fought so hard for her over the past 6 months. Secondly, I wanted to encourage others to become living donors. Finally, I wanted people to “Be More” in this world and do good. A mutual friend showed Erin my video and she reached out to me a few days later. A bond was born that could never be explained.
We met a few months later at the Gift of Life Donor Dash in Philadelphia. Our journey, that I thought had come to an end, had truly just begun. I never thought I would get a second chance to be Erin’s donor. One day I found out she was switching hospitals and getting on a new waiting list. I began testing at the new hospital the same day as Erin’s first visit. Based on the previous testing results, the new hospital sent me home with a 24-hour blood pressure monitor and through that, it was proven that I did not have high blood pressure! This meant that I was Erin’s match and could be Erin’s donor. IT WAS ME ALL ALONG.
Fast forward not even one month later, and Erin and I were prepping for surgery! On September 12th 2017, we had a successful surgery and my kidney began working in Erin almost immediately! We are now coming up on almost 7 months post-op! My life will never be the same. It has so much more purpose, and I truly can say I am a better person from the entire process. I live for encouraging others to “Be More” in this life, just like I did. To get past the point of fear, and trust God’s plan for you. Being a living donor isn’t easy. It is exhausting both physically and mentally but you bounce right back and I would do it again in an instant. Today, I feel entirely normal and sometimes even forget I had a major surgery! I love my scars, they remind me every single day that I gave the gift of life. I am a living kidney donor.
By Breanna Sipple
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