A married mother of three is back at work after donating one of her kidneys to a complete stranger in early February.

Victoria Maurizio, of Pilesgrove, didn't get to give her kidney to the young boy she had originally planned on helping, but her kindness ended up coming through for more than one person.

"I'm feeling good. It definitely takes time. I'm just tired," Maurizio told New Jersey 101.5.

The 33-year-old had surgery on Feb. 7 at the University of Pennsylvania. By early March, she was back to work for the Salem County Department of Health & Human Services.

"It was like the coolest experience of my life," Victoria said of the donation process.

Victoria's interest in donating was first sparked by a Facebook group devoted to a young boy named EJ, a New Jersey resident who was on a quest to find a healthy kidney donor.

Victoria Maurizio (left) meets with EJ and his mother. (Photo provided by Victoria Maurizio)
Victoria Maurizio (left) meets with EJ and his mother. (Photo provided by Victoria Maurizio)

Victoria reached out to EJ's mother, and various tests proved that Victoria and EJ were a match.

But during the follow-up screenings, it was determined that EJ's kidney function had stabilized and he wouldn't need an immediate transplant. Since transplanted kidneys in children may only last 12 to 15 years, doctors said they want to hold off as long as possible.

Still, Victoria continued with the process, and her healthy kidney was transplanted into a Pennsylvania man who, according to Victoria, "is doing great."

Victoria and her recipient met in the hospital, and they still chat weekly.

"Once we're both recovered in a couple weeks, our families are going to get together," Victoria said.

And young EJ now receives a voucher that moves him to the top of the transplant list when he needs an organ.

"How cool — I got to help two people," Victoria said.

How to become an organ donor

Portable fridge for transporting donor organs on the wooden table, 3D rendering

According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, there are more than 105,000 men, women and children waiting for a transplant nationwide. Every 10 minutes, a new name is added to that list, and 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant.

Organs from living donors are more healthy in general, experts say. Individuals who are interested in becoming a living kidney donor can check out the National Kidney Donation Organization at this page.

Use this link to learn how to become a potential living donor. Donate Life uses this form to get you signed up as a deceased donor through the state of New Jersey.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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