NEW JERSEY - It’s not every day you meet someone who decides to donate an organ to someone they don’t know, but 24-year-old Gianna Graw, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey knew it was her purpose in life to save someone else’s.
"It was a little nerve-racking, obviously, thinking about doing this through the pandemic, but I just knew that people were counting on me," she says.
Graw reached out to Hackensack University Medical Center to inquire about donating early last year.
The hospital has a partnership with the National Kidney Registry.
"I knew that the protections in place at the hospital would protect me. I felt fine doing it and it was completely worth it. I have no regrets," Graw explains.
On Dec. 9th, Graw went in to have her left kidney removed.
Within hours, she was awake in the recovery room and her kidney was already on its way to California to be transplanted into a 37-year-old patient who desperately needed it.
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Graw’s father, William, a former Jersey City cop, lost his battle to cancer four years ago.
She says she made the life-changing decision in his honor to ensure his legacy of kindness and compassion lives on.
Gianna’s donation triggered a chain reaction leading to a total of four kidney transplants.
Her selfless act has even encouraged others to become donors, and pay it forward.
"All I want is for people to understand that kidney donation isn’t as intimidating or taboo as we may think it is. It truly is an amazing process. You save someone’s life, there is no better gift," Graw adds.