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From The Reporter online:
Five years ago, during a routine blood and urine test, North Wales resident Tom Green’s doctor detected high creatinine levels.Since creatinine levels are a measure of kidney function, a high level suggested his kidneys weren’t working properly.A kidney biopsy was performed and doctors discovered Tom only had a combine 30 percent function of his kidneys.Outwardly and physically he was doing fine, so he began seeing a nephrologist, or kidney doctor, who monitored his function.In January 2012, his kidney function decreased enough to require Tom to start medications, including steroids and anti-rejection drugs.After the benefits of the medication plateaued, in January 2013 his kidney function started to decline and Tom was referred to Einstein’s Transplant Center.Tom wanted no parts of dialysis so a transplant was the only option — but, he was told the wait for a donor’s organ is four to six years.“Our next option was a live donor,” Marissa Green, Tom’s wife said. “Immediately, all of our children stepped up offering to donate but my son Tom Jr. insisted as the oldest he would be the donor.”The problem, however, was due to Tom’s diagnosis of Focal Segmental Glomerular Sclerosis (FSGS), doctors feared a kidney from his children could possibly develop the same condition.“We were devastated when we got the news that the kids couldn’t be donors — our immediate hope,” Marissa said.Tom, a commercial roofing contractor, also owns Tranzilli Real Italian Water Ice in Philadelphia, and many of his workers, family friends and relatives instantly offered to get tested to see if they could donate a kidney.Marissa decided to be the first one tested so she could let the rest of the potential donors know what to expect.Three weeks later, while at work as a certified school nurse at Montgomery Elementary in the North Penn School District, Marissa got a call from the transplant coordinator, telling her that she was a suitable donor for Tom.“I was elated, saying, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’” Marissa said. “I ran across the hall to my friend Toby Sterling to tell her first because she probably heard me screaming on the phone.”Tom wasn’t so excited, worrying about the risk the transplant would put both of them in, when they have three children they love dearly to be here for.“I reminded him, with me he knew what he was getting,” Marissa said. “I don’t smoke, drink on rare occasions. I’m in good health and am active.”In August 2013, Tom was hospitalized with complications from ciliac disease and doctors discovered his kidney function went from 22 percent in July to 15 percent in August. By December his kidney function was down to 11 percent and doctors were ready to get the transplant process going.On January 16, the night before the transplant surgery, the Green family congregated at home, including son Tom Jr., 25, and daughters Alexandra, 23, and Lauren, 18, and Marissa’s 82-year-old mother Olimpia Tranzilli.At 5 a.m. the next morning, they all piled into the car and drove to Einstein.“The most emotional moment was when we said goodbye to go into our separate operating rooms,” Marissa said. “I cry every time I think of that moment — not from sadness but because I’m so elated and grateful I could help my husband.”According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, about 10 to 11 percent of donors are spouses.The Greens like to joke that Tom can’t leave the house without his wife anymore and Marissa is the winner of all arguments for the next 10 years, at least.The surgeries went smoothly and after six days in the hospital both Tom and Marissa recovered at home for seven weeks, while Marissa’s mother took care of them by doing all of the cooking.On April 13, the Greens plan to participate in the Gift of Life Donor Program’s Donor Dash (www.donors1.org/volunteer/dash), to honor organ donors who have saved lives and increase awareness about the need for organ donors.“I always taught my kids it’s better to give than to receive,” Marissa said. “This truly was the greatest gift of my life.”