Two best friends on Long Island are now sharing a bond like no other, a set of kidneys.
Eleanor Lalima of Ronkonkoma and Lisa Figueroa Filosa of Deer Park have been best friends since they met in the 1st grade. Through getting married and having children of their own, the duo have stayed close throughout their more than 30 year friendship, so it wasn’t a surprise to anyone they knew when Lisa answered the call to help out when her friend needed her most.
Eleanor has been battling kidney disease since age 16. Not only did she face the disease, but she lost both her mother and her brother to kidney disease. While a patient at Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH), Eleanor learned her next treatment option was receiving a kidney transplant.
Soon after, Eleanor put out a call for help on Facebook. Several of Eleanor’s family and friends reached out right away to get tested including her lifelong best friend Lisa. Lisa was actually the first to get tested and called Eleanor to tell her she had a good match for a transplant.
“My mother was on the transplant list for over 8 years due to her rare blood type and she didn’t get the same chance I have now,” says Eleanor. “To get a kidney in such a short time is really amazing and it gives me a chance at a better life.”
Dr. Wayne Waltzer, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Urology and Director of Kidney Transplantation Program at Stony Brook University Hospital, and Dr. Frank Darras, Clinical/Medical Director of the Renal Transplantation Program at Stony Brook University Hospital, who cared for other members of her family, played a large role in Eleanor’s treatment at Stony Brook.
“Kidney disease can take a toll on an entire family. Being a transplant surgeon and being able to assist in restoring one’s quality of life is truly a rewarding experience,” said Dr. Darras. “But the true hero here is Lisa. Without her none of this would have been possible!”
On May 25, spirits were high as Eleanor and Lisa went in for surgery at SBUH. The surgery was a success and the friends were discharged within a week.
“Just when you think a lifelong friendship can’t be any stronger, you share a kidney,” said Lisa.
Kidney disease affects an estimated 37 million people in the U.S. (15% of the adult population; more than 1 in 7 adults). It is the leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the National Kidney Foundation, causing more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer.
For more information about Kidney Transplantation Services at Stony Brook Medicine, visit stonybrookmedicine.edu/