Last week during DonateLife Week, the RMH played host to a very special live kidney donation story.

Christene, Dr Emma Tully and Carolina Maistry
Kidney surgeon for the RMH Dr Emma Tully (centre) with donor Christene and patient Carolina.

Patient Carolina Maistry received a life-saving organ from a source very close-to-home; her mother-in-law Christene.

With the help of the RMH Kidney Surgeon Dr Emma Tully and the incredible Nephrology team, both Carolina and Christene are now recovering post-op on ward 6 South West.

“I already feel much better,” said Carolina.

“Physically I am still recovering but mentally I feel better than ever.”

Carolina’s amazing story begins when she was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2013.

She and her husband wanted a child, and she finally fell pregnant in 2020.

Carolina was labelled a high-risk pregnancy due to her kidney disease.

At 20 weeks pregnant, she underwent a procedure with Dr Tully to allow her to start dialysis and give her daughter the best chance possible.

Then Carolina received an unfortunate surprise - her daughter was diagnosed with a congenital heart disorder in utero.

Given her condition, doctors first thought it was unlikely Carolina would make it to 34 weeks’ gestation.

Her daughter now needed her to make it to 37 weeks to ensure she could have the best chance of surviving the heart surgery she needed once born.

During this period, Carolina was receiving dialysis at the RMH for four hours a day, six days a week, as well as attending additional appointments for herself, her unborn child, and the pregnancy itself.

Carolina gives a lot of credit to the RMH Dialysis team for their amazing support during a very difficult pregnancy.

“I can’t begin to explain all the ways (they) helped me,” she said. “(They even) prepared a baby shower for me to celebrate.”

Carolina gave birth successfully at 37 weeks gestation, to a baby girl Olivia, on 27 April 2021.

Olivia has now had two rounds of heart surgery, with one more scheduled for 2025.

Through an incredibly tough time, Caroline maintained her strength and never stopped fighting.

“Her attitude has stayed the same the whole time” said Dr Tully.

“She has been incredibly resolute.”

While dialysis is often seen as a Band-Aid solution for patients with chronic kidney disease, Dr Tully says that the transplant will provide a more long-term solution and most importantly, “allow her to spend much more time with her daughter.”

As for the donor, Christene has no regrets.

“If I had to do it all again, I would.”

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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