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Family of four plays at the beach with coastline in background

Cross-country kidney donation gives veteran second chance

January 14, 2016 | Patricia Harriman

Patricia Lovenstein and Frank Maggelet before transplant surgery.

Although they lived on opposite sides of the country, and did not know each other well, when Patricia Lovenstein found out Frank Maggelet needed a kidney, she didn’t hesitate to volunteer as a donor.

The reason? “He’s family,” she said. “He spent 32 years in the Coast Guard, my husband is still in the Coast Guard on active duty and my daughter Olivia is a nursing student at the University of New Hampshire. She’s in the ROTC program and will be commissioned into the US Army when she graduates in May. Military is family, and it is an honor and a blessing for me to do this.”

She first thought about making a donation six months earlier, having received “a clear sign to me the universe has a plan for me involving a kidney.”

Donor makes 3,000 mile journey

The Lovensteins live in New Hampshire and are preparing to move to Juneau, Alaska, where Patricia’s husband James will be stationed. The Maggelets moved to Diamond Bar five years ago.

Even before the move, she didn’t know Maggelet well, having first met him in 2009 when he served in the Coast Guard with James in Boston. Before this week, the last time the Lovensteins saw Maggelet was in 2011, when both men were members of a mutual friend’s wedding party.

For the transplant, Dr. Hirohito Ichii removed Patricia’s kidney and then Dr. Clarence Foster transplanted it into Frank in an adjacent operating room at UC Irvine Medical Center.

“I’ve known since 1988 that I had inherited this condition, called polycystic kidney disease,” Maggelet, 56, said.

His kidneys began to fail in late 2014 and, by last July, he needed to start kidney dialysis. “I could not believe that I was able to have this transplant six months later. I am so lucky and grateful.”

Dad will be around for a long time now

Maggelet’s wife, Kathy, and their two young daughters — ages 10 and 11 — are also very grateful to Patricia. The life expectancy for half of people with PKD is 60 years old.

“Kathy will have her husband and his two little girls will now have their dad around for a long time, and he deserves that,” said Lovenstein, 50. “It is a privilege for me to give him a better chance for life with his family.”

Both Patricia and Frank hope their story encourages others to become living donors.

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