Woman Donates Kidney to Best Friend of 20 Years

It seems like it was meant to be.

Monaliza Morris and Jenny Vann met when both of their fathers worked for a U.S. defense contractor in a small town in Australia. They soon discovered they had lived on the same street in Hawaii years before.

Twenty years later, they remain inseparable -- and a perfect match in every way.

Morris, an 36-year-old energetic, spunky graphic designer, has gone through four rounds of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries since being diagnosed with lupus 19 years ago.

"Lupus has completely ravaged my body," she said. "It typically takes over red blood cells. Red blood cells filter into your kidneys, healthy kidneys and that's exactly what happened to me. It attacked my kidneys."

When she need a kidney transplant, Vann was the first to step up. She turned out to be a perfect match.

"She was there literally at the beginning and now at the darkest hour, and she's donating her kidney to me," Morris said. "Knowing she's going to be on the operating table next to me, it gave me strength to know that she's making that sacrifice for me."

Vann said she volunteered without hesitation.

"It's something I can do to help her quality of life for the coming years so she'll be around to watch my kids get married and graduate and all that, so it's special," said Vann, a mother of two.

The transplant is scheduled for March 3.

Morris said she's eternally grateful for friendship she's received from Vann and for the priceless gift she'll receive in three weeks.

Though Morris is hoping and praying for the best, she is also preparing for the worst-case scenario.

"She knows the risk as well -- that lupus could show up, because it's in remission right now -- and take over the new kidney, but she wants to give me a fighting chance," Morris said.

Vann said she believes they were placed in each other's lives for this reason.

"Most people don't get the opportunity to do something so special for their best friend," she said.

The friends held a fundraiser for the National Transplant Assistance Fund on Wednesday. They are also accepting donations through the NTAF website or by phone at 1-800-642-8399.

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