Vacaville residents to honor kidney transplant donor

Gene Hall (707) 365-4310

WHEN: 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesday, January 25

WHERE: The Opera House, 530 Main Street, Vacaville, CA

WHAT:  Vacaville civic leaders, UCSF Medical Center staff and hundreds of Vacaville residents will gather for a surprise “official thank-you” to Leesa Danley, a Vacaville woman who donated one of her kidneys to Kathy Martinez, a neighbor. Martinez had been suffering from a familial kidney disorder (her mother died from the disease) and had just been put on dialysis. On October 27, 2004 both women underwent surgery at UCSF Medical Center and one of Danley’s kidneys was successfully transplanted into Martinez.

Most remarkable about this story is that Danley, the mother of four, had known Martinez for only nine months prior to the surgery. (The two women had met through their children)

Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine, a representative from the Solano County Board of Supervisors and officials from UCSF Medical Center will be on hand to present Danley with proclamations and other gifts.

MORE DETAILS: Elizabeth Fry, a Vacaville real estate broker, is the driving force behind the surprise thank- you. Fry read the story about the two women in a local newspaper, and felt that this type of quiet heroism deserves recognition by the community.

UCSF Medical Center transplant surgeon Chris Freise, MD, and transplant nurse-coordinator Kerry Kumar, RN, will represent the UCSF Transplant Service at the ceremony.  Kumar is the nurse who worked with Martinez and Danley as they planned the living-donor transplant. Freise performed a minimally-invasive laparascopic donor nephrectomy to remove Danley’s kidney, while transplant surgeon Sang-Mo Kang transplanted the kidney to Martinez.

“Leesa Danley is a graceful example of the altruism of all of our donors,” said Freise.  “Friends and family members who come forward for a living-donor operation give our patients their best chance of transplant success, and reduce a waiting time that can be as long as five years. People who sign up to donate their organs if they should unfortunately die also are essential—nearly half of all kidney transplants and most transplants of other organs depend on these cadaveric donors.”

Of more than 300 kidney transplants performed at UCSF Medical Center each year, 40 percent of patients receive their kidneys from a living donor. UCSF’s kidney transplant service is one of the nation’s most experienced with laparascopic donor nephrectomy, where most of the operation involves the use of small tools at the end of thin wires to minimize the need for large incisions. In all, doctors at UCSF Medical Center have performed more kidney transplants than at any other center in the world.

Nationwide, more than 64,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for kidney transplants. An additional 3,000 are waiting for transplants of livers, hearts, lungs and other organs, according to the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (

About Becoming an Organ Donor: California Transplant Donor Network and Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network ( About Living Donor Organ Donation: UCSF Medical Center Transplant Service (