Gina Trilla, Donor Mentor

Gina is a live kidney donor living in Chicago, Illinois. In 2013 Gina gave the Gift of Life to her father.

Gina’s Transplant Story

So to give a little background, my family has a strong history of kidney and heart disease, among other diseases (MS, gout, colon cancer, and more). My dad is the one in his family who got the short end of the stick. At the age of 48, he had already had four heart attacks and a give way bypass. Two weeks later, his younger brother died of a heart attack. About a month after that, his older brother had a five way bypass as well. To say the least, their blood lines are rough. About two years after my dad had his bypass, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer and, luckily for him, they removed the cancer, sparing only  10% of one of his kidneys. Now, throughout his whole life, after a case of strep attacked his kidneys, he had kidney issues. About 5 years ago he was put on the transplant list proactively in hopes to get the transplant done before it was crunch time. In January of last year, the talk of crunch time came up. By February I was at Loyola, Chicago getting tested. I always talked to my dad about doing it throughout those five years but, as you know, I’m pretty young, so it always got brushed off as I was too young to donate. My dad was getting to the point where he was starting to get pretty nervous because the talk of dialysis came up. For anyone who has been on it, I’ve heard it’s hard. There was another factor scaring him though, and that was that his dad passed on dialysis because it caused his heart to become very weak. This ultimately led to a full body collapse. As a heart patient himself, you can imagine the fear my dad was struggling with. That’s where I came in! By September of 2013 I was officially approved to be my dad’s kidney donor! I flew home to Chicago from here in Colorado and surprised my dad on his birthday. 5 days later, my kidney had a new boss! October 24, 2013 marks the day my dad was given a second chance at life. He was given an opportunity to continue to be a father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, and the best man I could ever imagine being my dad. I wouldn’t trade this blessing for anything.

What do you do for a living?

I’m currently a pharmacy technician, hopefully soon to be Medical Staff Credentialing Coordinator. I’m also a student going for a Masters in Healthcare Administration and Management.

What do you do for fun?

I own a horse that I have had for over 8 years. I absolutely love being outside hiking, going to the lake, camping, walking my dog, and basically anything out doors!

What are your hobbies?

See what I do for fun ; )

What do you do to stay active?

I go to the gym every morning with my boyfriend before we both go to work, and then of course outside activities count as being active!

What are your passions?

I am very passionate about many things actually. One thing specifically is healthcare as a whole. My whole life I have been surrounded by it, with long term health concerns for my dad, as well as going to school for it as it’s so interesting for me; its ever-changing and getting better every day! My other passion is for children. Ever since my siblings have had children (I currently have a niece and three nephews) I have been in love with them. They come into this world so pure and filled with love, its remarkable to watch exactly how much love they are willing to give! I wish this world had hearts like children!

Why did you choose to be a mentor?

Anastasia found me after a 9News broadcast about living donation that I sent my story into after seeing it. After that, I was ready to take part in this amazing organization. The mentorship program offers me the opportunity to help other people decide if living donation is for them, by simply answering their questions. Answer questions to potentially save yet another life? I’M IN!

What is your involvement with ATF? How long have you been involved?

I haven’t been involved for very long however I am already feeling the love from the organization! Not only have I helped volunteer already, but becoming a mentor now is so rewarding.

What about being a mentor appealed to you?

Being a mentor means more than just answering questions for someone. It’s a chance to save another life through living donation. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, if I could donate again I would in a heartbeat. Being a mentor means I can help someone who just needs more encouragement, more help, to make that same decision I made. Of course it’s scary, of course you have concerns, but having been in their shoes I can relate to them and tell them it will be okay. The minute you see that person in the other bed feeling 10 times better, simply waking up from the surgery, its priceless. You cannot put a dollar amount on how good that feels to not only see that person feel better, but to see the sighs of relief come from the family members.

Are you a donor mentor or transplant recipient mentor?


Fun Facts:

  • Favorite Sports Team? CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS!!!!!!!!
  • Favorite Food? As an Italian I could eat pasta for days!
  • Favorite or Dream vacation? Anywhere tropical.
  • Favorite Movie? Boondock Saints for sure.
  • Favorite Band? I’m one of those that listens to everything!
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