Lily’s Story: An Answered Prayer

Lily Delaney was born and raised in Guatemala. When she was 24, Lily moved to the United States after graduating from nursing school. 1972 ended up being a monumental year for Lily because, in addition to moving to a new country, she also met her husband Joseph. “I fell in love with Lily the day I met her. We were inseparable,” said Joseph.

Two years later, Lily and Joseph, now engaged to be married, received bad news. Lily was diagnosed with kidney failure, and doctors said she wouldn’t survive without a kidney transplant. Despite her diagnosis, Joseph was intent on building a life with Lily because he knew their love was strong enough to overcome any obstacle.

Soon Lily began dialysis treatment to keep her alive while she waited for a kidney transplant. After eight years of waiting, the doctor called to say a matching kidney was available from a generous organ donor. Lily and Joseph were so grateful to her donor because it meant they could now get married and start a family. Before Lily received her transplant, she prayed to Saint Mary for her life to be saved so she could one day have children. After her transplant, Lily gave birth to two healthy children: Timothy and Mary, who was named in honor of Lily’s prayers being answered.

Both Timothy and Mary learned at a young age that they were alive because of the gift their mom received from an organ donor. Mary recalls Lily was an advocate for donation, especially in the Hispanic community and in her church. Unfortunately, when Mary was in college, Lily suffered a heart attack. Doctors saved Lily’s life, but sadly, she lost her kidney. “It was heartbreaking because doctors predicted her kidney transplant would last 1-3 years, but my mom took such excellent care of her health that her kidney lasted 24 years,” said Mary. Lily was once again placed on the national transplant waiting list and began dialysis.

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Three years later, Lily received a second kidney transplant thanks to another donor hero. This gift allowed her to join Joseph as they both walked Mary down the aisle on her wedding day and to have a special bond with her grandchildren. “I’m thankful my mother taught them Spanish and instilled in them the same values she did in my brother and I,” said Mary. Unfortunately, Lily suffered another heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery. Lily was on the road to recovery when she suffered a stroke. Lily passed away unexpectedly due to complications from her stroke. “During the hardest days of my mom’s journey, I always saw a strong woman. She never complained,” said Mary.

The influence Lily had on Mary led her to pursue a career in organ donation advocacy. “I’m blessed I work in a field which allows me to honor my mother and share her story so others can understand how donation saves lives.”

Visit BeADonor.org and register to be an organ donor.