A symbol of generosity and hope

First good Samaritan kidney transplant in Italy

Simona Losito, 53, from Naples, Italy is a clinical pathologist with a keen thirst for knowledge and a great passion for life. When she was thirty she discovered she had a rare form of renal amyloidosis which causes progressive renal failure. Despite the painful symptoms, two hip replacements and the immunosuppressive treatments she needed, Simona continued to lead a normal and fulfilling life, studying, working and travelling the world.

Starting dialysis

During one of her trips abroad, at the age of 46 she was involved in a car accident, suffering serious fractures which required many hours of surgery. Sadly this led to the irretrievable loss of her residual renal function and so Simona had to begin dialysis treatment. Simona was prescribed High Volume Haemodiafiltration, but despite the benefits of this modern dialysis technique, starting dialysis still marked a considerable change to her life.  However Simona didn’t let this get her down and continued to work at the G. Pascale National Cancer Institute in Naples, and with her husband she pursued her love of travel.

Signing up to the transplant list

With the help of the doctors and nurses at her NephroCare dialysis centre, in 2009 Simona’s name was put on the transplant lists in Salerno and Milan. In 2012, she transferred to another NephroCare centre in Naples where her new medical and nursing team enthusiastically continued to support her transport goal.

A long wait….

Time passed, months became years, and for Simona the wait for a compatible kidney became increasingly unbearable.  Together with her NephroCare medical and nursing team Simona began to explore the possibility of live donor transplantation. A 55-year-old cousin from Puglia offered to give Simona a kidney, but their blood groups didn’t match. However this is no longer a limiting factor, so the NephroCare team started organising the pre-renal transplantation tests. As it turned out Simona’s cousin was a suitable donor, although she was not compatible with Simona from an immunological point of view.

The crossover programme

In the Spring of 2014, encouraged by her NephroCare team, Simona decided to join the crossover programme of the Tuscany region. This involves an exchange of organs between different families, provided the donors’ relatives are immunologically compatible with the recipients. Five families were studied for the donations and subsequent transplants, but once again luck wasn’t on Simona’s side as not a single donor was compatible with her, in fact there were only possible recipients for her cousin’s kidney.

Good news at last!

But then at the end of February 2015 the news arrived that a lady from outside the programme wanted to donate a kidney to a total stranger – the first good Samaritan kidney donor in Italy!

Italy’s first Samaritan donor

In Italy, Samaritan (or altruistic) donation was only made possible a few years ago, and until now a donation had never been made.  But history was about to be written - thanks to the Samaritan donor’s generosity and the resulting domino effect, on April 4, 2015, five kidney transplants were performed in Siena and Milan on patients who had been on the transplant list for years, forced to wait because their live donors were not immunologically compatible with them.  Finally, Simona had her long yearned for new kidney! After the transplant, Simona is recovering well and is ready to get on with her life with the same fighting spirit as always but feeling stronger than ever before!

Here are a few words from Simona about organ donation:

“Ideally Italy should encourage more people to participate in a donor campaign in order to increase the number of transplants from deceased donors. At the same time great benefits are to be gained thanks to this new law and the priceless generosity of extraordinary people who are willing to go through the personal discomfort of donating one of their kidneys, motivated by the knowledge that their generous act will help another human being to a new start in life.”