(201) Health 2021 Edition - Page 34

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When Gianna Graw considers the legacy of her father William , aJersey City police officer who died of cancer in �01� , her strongest memories are of his many acts of compassion .
“ There was awoman in Jersey City , a single mother , whose house was broken into around Christmas ,” she says .“ They took pretty much everything , and my dad heard about it . After talking to his superiors , ( he and his colleagues ) got Shop�ite involved and raised money . They replaced her TV and got tons of gifts for the kids . Years later , one of the responding officers saw the woman and she said it was still one of the best Christmases she ever had .”
Last winter , Graw channeled her father ’ s caring nature by giving an even greater present to a stranger in need : The gift of life . She underwent surgery to remove one of her kidneys and donate it to someone living in Los Angeles .
Not only did she save the recipient ’ s life , but she set off achain of kidney transplants to other critically ill recipients across the country . Dr . David Serur , the medical director of the kidney transplant program at �ackensack �niversity Medical Center , where her surgery took place , says that Graw and donors like her “ are true heroes . We really appreciate what they do . You can only donate akidney once , but if you can make several transplants happen ... isn ’ t that something .”
“ It was the best decision I ever made ,” says Graw , who earned her graduate degree from Montclair State �niversity in March and is currently looking for ajob as acollege administrator . “ I ’ m only �4 , but I know that this will stay the best decision Iever made .”
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Graw first learned about the potential to be a kidney donor during an undergraduate class atStockton �niversity in Galloway Township . A few years later , following the December �01� shooting at a Jersey City kosher market , she heard on the news about the plight of Jersey City police officer Anthony “ Sonny ” Silver , who had been waiting for a kidney donation for more than a year .
“ The report said he was one of the first responding officers and was in need of a kidney ,” says Graw .“ I thought about it over the weekend , did a little bit of research and by Monday , I contacted the hospital to get involved and see if I could donate .” But when she contacted the hospital where Silver awaited a transplant , she was told that they already had a match , and were in the process of approving it .
( Silver ’ s donor turned out to be an Orthodox Jewish woman who ’ d heard about the shooting and reached out to the Jersey City police department directly .)
Graw still wanted to be a kidney donor , though , so she contacted �ackensack �niversity Medical Center , which partners with the National �idney �egistry to facilitate living-donor kidney transplants . After several months of tests to make sure she was healthy enough to donate , Graw underwent surgery as a “ non-specific ” donor �someone whose donation can go to someone she doesn ’ t know . The procedure began around 3 a . m . so the kidney could be placed in a box , picked up and flown to California by 11 a . m .
During a presentation for potential donors , Graw had learned that her kidney could be part of a chain of transplants . And it was . It saved the life of arecipient
PHOTOS COURTESY OF �IANNA �RAW
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2021 EDITION ( 201 ) HEALTH