“We just want to spread awareness” is what YMS 2006 Boys Premier Celtic parent Molly Gray said recently after donating her spare kidney to help fellow Celtic parent, Dan Napoleon. Dan and Molly have shared the sideline for five years, cheering on their sons, Cooper and Brandon. Dan and Molly, however, share a bond that goes beyond the sideline. Molly donated her kidney to save her friend’s life.

Dan had been fighting with hypertension and type 2 diabetes, which led to problems with his kidneys. Dialysis began to rule his life, taking 4 hours a day, three days a week. Vacations, trips, soccer tournaments, and other life events all had to be planned with Dan’s health in mind.

After waiting four years on the deceased donor list for a kidney, Dan posted on social media, hoping to connect with potential living donors. It was not easy to ask, but with end stage renal failure, Dan didn’t have another option. Without a kidney transplant, Dan was not going to be able to enjoy all things important to him, including his family and friends. Regular dialysis treatments kept Dan alive, but a transplant would allow him to live.

Dan’s message, posted in March of 2021, outlined his fight to find a donor. He was one of over 100,000 people waiting for a kidney. He posted, “Some fight for years; many die while waiting…time is not on our side.” He also, however, outlined a different option – the living donor. Living donations typically last longer and have better functionality. Living donors live healthy lives with only one kidney. The surgery is usually laparoscopic, and donor recovery is fairly quick, so Dan hoped that the power of social media, along with the power of prayer, would allow him to find his guardian angel. He found that in Celtic parent, Molly Gray.

Molly saw Dan’s post online and was immediately called to action. She couldn’t come up with a reason not to donate. With Dan’s boys at the forefront of her mind, Molly reached out to Dan and went through the donor screening process at the Penn Transplant Institute. While Molly was not a direct match for Dan, they were able to take part in the kidney paired donation program. Molly donated her spare kidney to an unknown recipient, which allowed Dan to receive a kidney from another participant in the program. In other words, one kidney donation saved two lives. Almost a year to the day of Dan’s social media post, he received his living donor kidney. While Dan is sore, and recovery is lengthy, he already feels he has a new lease on life, and Molly is  hoping to spread more awareness about the program.

As Dan and Molly both cheered on the Celtic from their hospital rooms the weekend after their surgeries, we realize that this is all much more than just a game and any one of us has the power to make a difference in the lives of those around us. If you want to find out more about this incredible program, please visit the Penn Living Donor Transplant program at www.pennmedicine.org and consider the call to #shareyourspare




Pictures: Credit to Sharon Napoleon & JE Portraits

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