NEW BOSTON – An 18-year-old girl received a new lease on life thanks to a kidney transplant last week.
Thanks to the donation from an anonymous 20-year-old female, New Boston’s Hailey Gelinas, 18, left Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in Lebanon on Monday, Nov. 11, with a new kidney, the second kidney transplant she has received.
Gelinas’ first transplanted kidney, donated by a family member in 2007, was rejected in 2016.
Hailey’s guardian, Elaine Gilman, does not have much information on the donor outside of the fact that she died suddenly from a cardiac-related death just a few hours earlier and she was healthy enough to have her organs transplanted to a donor like Hailey.
Gilman says that after a mourning period, she would like to thank the family of the donor. Over the past three years, a lack of potential younger donors prevented Gelinas from obtaining the needed new kidney, which compounded other health problems she faced ranging from cerebral palsy to diabetes.
“That age group we were trying to target, like under 35, most of them have small children or families and they can’t afford to be uncompensated for six weeks while they’re healing,” said Gilman. “So there could have been people out there who were a match, but couldn’t because they couldn’t take the time off.”
Gilman hopes to advocate for government financial assistance for living donors, which she says would be much more cost-effective to society than the dialysis treatment and other needed procedures for those in need of kidneys.
In addition to that advocacy, Gilman still needs to provide significant assistance to Gilman for her other health issues as well as watching out for possible complications from the surgery.
However, Gilman has noticed a marked improvement in Gelinas’ health since the surgery. Gilman has also noticed that Gelinas’ outlook has improved as dietary restrictions that prevented the young girl from eating many foods like spaghetti and broccoli have now been lifted.
“She is feeling on top of the world, she hasn’t stopped smiling since she woke up,” said Gilman.
Upon returning to New Boston, Gelinas received an impromptu parade from the New Boston Fire Department.
For years, Gelinas has been an honorary member of the New Boston Fire Department, just one of the organizations in New Boston and Weare that Gilman says have been invaluable to help Gelinas persevere through her difficulties.
“Everyone is blown away in the fire department by her strength, she’s one of the strongest people you’d ever want to meet. She has all these problems, but not once did she ever stop smiling, she keeps on fighting back,” said New Boston Fire Department Chief Dan MacDonald.
“What I find in our business is that when people are in distress or your world has been turned upside down, knowing you’re not alone helps give you the strength to keep going. I think this was just a great outcome for the whole department and the whole town.”
More information on how to donate a kidney to Dartmouth-Hitchcock patients like Gelinas can be found at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock website by typing “Become a Living Kidney Donor” into the site’s search function.