The daSilva family

Mom donates kidney to help son

April 29, 2021

Karen daSilva would give anything for her son, Tony—even her own kidney.

This Mother’s Day, join us in celebrating moms like Karen who go above and beyond for their children’s health.


Difficult start

Tony’s kidney troubles started before he was born. When Karen was 14 weeks pregnant, her doctors noticed Tony’s kidneys weren’t developing properly. Then at 20 weeks, Karen and Tony underwent an experimental in-utero surgery to help his kidneys.

The surgery worked and Tony grew up without any major health concerns.

“We may have let our guard down, because his health was normal,” Karen and her husband, Dr. Lawrence daSilva told us.

But when Tony started trying to have a family of his own, he and his wife struggled to get pregnant. Tony scheduled a checkup at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota. There he learned his kidneys were failing.

Tony needed a kidney transplant at just 26 years old. Karen volunteered as a kidney donor, but her kidney wasn’t a great match for Tony and she needed to lose 30 pounds to qualify.

In three months, Karen met her goal weight and was approved as a kidney donor. Her kidney wouldn’t go to Tony, but to another patient in need, helping Tony move up on the transplant list.


Miracle to watch

On March 10, 2020, Karen donated her kidney to a patient in Illinois. The same day, Tony received a kidney from a man in New York.

“It was a miracle to see everything come together,” Dr. daSilva said.

Less than a month after Tony received his transplant, his wife gave birth to twins.

“It means everything to me that my mom donated her kidney,” Tony said “I’m tremendously grateful. She’s such a good example of what we strive to be as parents ourselves.”

The family’s experience inspired Dr. daSilva, a palliative care physician at Sanford, and Karen to donate to support kidney dialysis through the Sanford Health Foundation.

“Dialysis is incredibly important, and more and more people are needing it,” Dr. daSilva said. said. “It’s our way of saying thank you for Tony’s care,” Karen added. “Donating to support local health care is a gift that keeps on giving.”

If Tony hadn’t received a kidney donation when he did, he would have had to start dialysis. The treatment imitates the fluid and toxin removal functions of healthy kidneys and typically is performed three times a week.


Give for moms everywhere

Honor a special woman in your life this Mother’s Day with a gift. 100% of your donation will stay local to support the area of health care you are passionate about.