Fort Myers physician donates kidney to coworker

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Two colleagues became practically family members after one donated a kidney to the other.

Dr. Melanie Altizer, a physician in Fort Myers, gave the gift of life to her co-worker, Marianne McGiffin, who desperately needed a kidney.

"She came running towards me and said 'I'm a match,' and it was one of those moments that I couldn't believe what I was hearing," said McGiffin.

Six weeks ago, the two traveled to Tampa Bay to do the transplant surgery at Tampa General Hospital.

"I couldn't think of anything that I wanted to do more than helping Marianne get her health back," said Altizer, who recalls making the decision rather quickly.

Both women say the surgery went well and feel great.

According to the LifeLink Foundation, more than 113,000 people are on an organ transplant wait list in the United States.

Medical experts say organ donations from living donors, like Altizer, can save more lives.

"When I thought about organ donation, I've always had the designation on my driver's license to be a donor should something happen to me, but living donation was something I didn't really think about until it affected someone close to me," said Altizer.

April is National Donate Life Month.

There are thousands of donors in Florida who are on a long wait list right now. If you are interested in becoming a donor, visit https://www.lifelinkfoundation.org/organ-donation/.