CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – In 2020, a total of 39,000 life-saving organ donations were performed in the U.S., nearly 6,000 from living donors.
One such gift created an unexpected connection between a Coral Springs man and a woman, who was actually closer to him than he imagined.
For years, Frank Molino battled high blood pressure but never fully realized the toll it was taking on his kidneys until he underwent blood work a few years ago.
“One thing led to another and my nephrologist said, ‘You need to get on a list.’ And I said, ‘A list? I’m 56 years old!’” Molino said.
“It was bad, I almost fell off my chair, I never thought a transplant,” said his wife, Helene, who is a unit secretary with Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital at Broward Health.
She became focused on finding Frank a donor, but never imagined it would be someone working one floor below her.
“I never knew she existed, never passed her, it’s crazy,” she said.
Neo-natal intensive care nurse Brunna Martins heard about Frank’s need through Helene’s outreach efforts on social media.
Although Martins had listed herself as an organ donor on her driver’s license, Martins never though it was something she’d do while she was alive.
“Emotionally, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I’m a big believer in fate. I feel when it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go, so why am I going to go to the grave with a perfectly good healthy kidney. It just made no sense,” Martins said.
Martins and the Molino’s didn’t even meet until the day before the surgery in the fall of 2020, but now they have a permanent bond through their kidney connection.
“I definitely gained a family,” Martins said.
“God dropped an angel in my lap -- it’s that simple, you know what I mean? It’s incredible, it really is. She’s just an incredible person,” Frank Molino added.
On Wednesday, April 7, Martins will be recognized by the City of Coral Springs at the city commission meeting for her altruism in saving a life.