In the summer of 2006, Lili Ibanez’s doctors diagnosed telltale signs of kidney failure. With time running out before she would need to begin dialysis, she tearfully agreed to her 17-year-old son Anthony’s desire to be a donor. He was a perfect match. Since the December 2008 transplant, Lili resumed full-time work at the California DMV and Anthony finished another semester of college while enjoying an active life of sports and work. Said Lili, “How could I have known that the dream of having a son would lead me to depend on him to save my life?”
In the summer of 2006, Lili Ibanez’s doctors discovered telltale signs of kidney failure, although she had none of the usual symptoms. Lili learned that kidneys do not heal or regenerate, and that function can fluctuate but damage is irreversible. She had to prepare for dialysis, then kidney replacement.
Lili, who has worked for the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) since 1995 and as an examiner since 1999, is a 43-year old woman of Samoan descent. She is also a single mother to daughter Catherine and son Anthony.
“My countenance fell when I learned that Polynesians are among the hardest to match,” she recalled. “But all the while we prayed and had others pray for me while my kidneys continued to fail, dropping to 15% of function. I refused dialysis since I felt absolutely fine, but time was running out.
“Right from the start, Anthony wanted to be the donor, but I couldn’t see putting my 17-year old son through it. In the end he talked me into it, and I tearfully agreed to start testing on him as a donor. He was a perfect match, and on December 12, 2008, I had the transplant.”
Since the surgery, both mother and son are doing very well. Lili resumed full-time work in March 2009, and Anthony finished another semester of college while enjoying an active life of sports and work.
“I was 15 when I was asked what my life’s dream was, and I answered without hesitation, ‘to have a son,’” said Lili. “How could I have known that the dream of having a son would lead me to depend on him to save my life? We are registered organ donors and consider our new life to be an adventure. Making a difference is what it's all about.”