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Fairfield Woman Who Searched Far For Kidney Donor Finds One In Her Backyard

Christine Thompson Jenney, seated, donated a kidney to her neighbor, Margaret Karbovanec
Christine Thompson Jenney, seated, donated a kidney to her neighbor, Margaret Karbovanec Photo Credit: Contributed
Christine Thompson Jenney, seated, donated a kidney to her neighbor, Margaret Karbovanec
Christine Thompson Jenney, seated, donated a kidney to her neighbor, Margaret Karbovanec Photo Credit: Contributed
Fairfield resident Peggy Karbovanec needed a donor because she had Stage 4 kidney disease
Fairfield resident Peggy Karbovanec needed a donor because she had Stage 4 kidney disease Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- A Fairfield woman who searched far and wide for a kidney donor is at home and recovering from successful transplant surgery after finding the answer right in her own backyard.

Margaret Karbovanec, a retired Bunnell High School guidance counselor, launched a campaign to find a donor last winter because both of her kidneys were failing. She has polycystic kidney disease, an inherited condition.

Karbovanec did everything from posting fliers at the library to launching a Facebook page and website in an appeal to find a suitable, live donor.

"This past June I was in my backyard watering my roses when my new neighbor, Christine Jenney, came over to the stone wall and introduced herself and her three delightful children," Karbovanec said. "I was very impressed by her friendliness and thought what a lovely person."

The next day, Jenney stopped by the Fairfield Library with her kids, "and I saw her flier and I just gasped," she said. "I said, 'That's our neighbor who we just met — that's Miss Peggy."

Jenney said she went home, checked Karbovanec's website and began researching kidney transplants.

"I knew right away that i wanted to do it," Jenney said. "It was  a no-brainer for me."

Jenney emailed Karbovanec, who was elated and overjoyed by the generous offer.

After extensive tests at Yale-New Haven Hospital, it turned out the two women were a match and the transplant surgery was scheduled.

"And so on Sept. 12, Christine Jenney gave me the gift of life by donating her kidney to me," Karbovanec said.

A week later, Karbovanec said, "We are both doing well. Initially, there was a lot of fatigue."

Jenney said that she had "turned a corner on my healing. The first couple of days were tough. They say it's tougher on the donor — whoa — I feel it now. But now I can get up and move around without pain."

They will be monitored during their recovery, and it is important that Karbovanec's anti-rejection medications are properly calibrated.

Karbovanec said her new neighbor is "the best! God intervened and made a miracle."

Jenney agreed — she moved from Houston to Fairfield in June with her husband, Mike, and her children, Davis 8, Charlotte 7, and JR, 3. Before Mike was offered a job with a Stamford law firm, she had never considered a move to Connecticut. And when he took the job, the family considered it an adventure to make the big move.

"I think she really is an angel on earth," Karbovanec said. "My donor is the most wonderful person I know."

For her part, Jenney said, "It's so crazy, but that's how it all happened. ... We just clicked."

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