Michele Patarino, Donor Mentor

Michele is a living kidney donor. She is a mother of three, living with her family in Lakewood, Colorado. She gave the Gift of Life through kidney donation to her father in 2012.

Michele’s Transplant Story

My Dad was in kidney failure after being diabetic for 50 years.  Although I worked in health care, I wasn’t sure he was a transplant candidate due to his diabetes and his age.  When I saw a news story (on Fathers Day!) about another daughter who donated a kidney to her dad (and he was my dad’s age and also diabetic) I realized it might be an option for us.  Dad didn’t want to consider it at first (“you don’t have kids to provide spare parts for you”), but as his nephrologist started talking to the family about dialysis, I asked him to consider his grandkids.  I told him he had to dance at my daughters’ weddings – which meant taking different steps to be around for them.

We were both tested at University Hospital, and I was a very good match.  It still took a while to get my dad comfortable, but the medical team was great.  Our surgery was May 24, 2011, and it has been a blessing to the whole family.  Dad is doing great, and I’ve become more aware of my own health, lost weight, and feel great too.

What do you do for a living?

Healthcare Consultant – I work on health care reform issues and public health (particularly tobacco cessation).

What do you do for fun?

Watch my girls compete in soccer and track, workout, attend a fabulous book club, attend local theater/comedy, cook/eat/drink wine, travel (though not as much as I’d like), and enjoy the benefits of living in Colorado.

What do you to stay active?

I hit the gym 5 or 6 days a week, and hike and bike when I am able to fit it into my schedule. Haven’t skied in a while, but love that too.  Step aerobics is my old school favorite way to work up a sweat, and I plan to beat my 5k time in the Donor Dash this year!

What are your passions?

My family.

Why did you choose to be a mentor?

Because I want other families to have the joy of a successful organ transplant and I don’t think enough people are aware of living donation as an option.

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

I’ve been a member of the Transplant Leadership Council for two years and have done some volunteer work connecting the ATF team my health care industry contacts.

What about being a mentor appealed to you?

I was very lucky to connect with a woman who was a friend of a friend and donated to someone we both knew about six months before my transplant. She was open, helpful, and supportive, and our conversation gave me even more confidence that I was making the right decision to give my Dad a kidney.  I’d love to play that role for someone else in the future.

Are you a donor mentor or transplant recipient mentor?

Donor.

Fun Facts:

  • Favorite Food? Most things that my husband cooks for me…
  • Favorite or Dream vacation? Best ones to date have been Kauai (honeymoon) and Napa Valley (20th anniversary)… but we are going to London next spring when my oldest daughter studies at Oxford, so that one sounds exciting too!