Bridgeport native gets second shot at life following kidney transplant

Wilson stayed at UHC in Bridgeport and Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital.

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Bridgeport native Sami Wilson was a perfectly healthy 19-year-old. As a volleyball state champion and student at Fairmont State University, Wilson went to the hospital because of stomach pains. Unrelated to the pains, routine testing found that her kidneys were going into failure.

Wilson spent the next two weeks between UHC in Bridgeport and Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, where she received the rest of her care. Her diagnosis collided with the beginning of the pandemic, so the majority of her early appointments were via telemedicine. In June, she began going to Pittsburgh three times a week for dialysis treatment.

“Dialysis is very rough on your body,” Wilson said. “So starting that up just made me feel even more sick than I was before.”

Around the same time, Donate Life WV approached Wilson and asked for her permission to be the face of the organization’s new posters and brochures. She then became the poster child for Donate Life’s new campaign.

The big news came for Wilson a few weeks ago: she was getting a new kidney. The donation came thanks to her aunt, Debbie Huffman.

Huffman (right) donated a kidney to another patient.

Though, the kidney itself wasn’t from her. Huffman participated in a kidney chain swap, where eight people donated kidneys to eight recipients. Wilson was one of those recipients.

“It just feels amazing to have a new kidney and be ready. I’m ready to start my new life,” Wilson said with a smile on her face.

April is National Donate Life Month and Friday, April 16, is National Donate Life Day.

In order to register as an organ donor, click here or check the box when at the DMV.

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