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Twin sister to donate kidney

Life-saving urgery scheduled Wednesday

Posted: December 2, 2013 6:12 p.m.
Updated: December 2, 2013 6:12 p.m.
 

It’s not Christmas yet, but a Santa Clarita woman is scheduled to receive a life-saving gift from her sister this week: a kidney.

Jennifer Gibeau is getting one of her twin sister’s kidneys during surgery after years of living with lupus, which has caused severe kidney damage and organ failure, as well as two miscarriages.

On Wednesday Gibeau’s left kidney will be replaced with that of her twin sister, Julie Amburgey, after tests at a Lancaster hospital where the surgery will take place confirmed the two were a perfect “six out of six” match.

“I was at apprehensive at first,” said Amburgey, who works at Highlands Elementary School in Saugus. “But when the doctors and tests said I was a perfect match, I felt more at peace knowing I can truly help save her life.”

Both sisters were surprised with the results. Although twins, they are fraternal, so a perfect match was a rare result.

“It’s kind of a miracle knowing this is going to take place,” said Gibeau of Santa Clarita. “This is going to be harder on my sister than it will be on me.”

Because of multiple life-threatening risks involved for both women during and after the surgery, Gibeau said she’s impressed with her sister’s determination to go through with the surgery.

Diagnosed with lupus at age 15, her health condition kept worsening as she became older.

In July 1997 she went through a second miscarriage, and doctors discovered more problems. Gibeau’s health quickly deteriorated when her kidney failed because of a condition called antiphospholipid syndrome that provokes blood clots — also resulting in Von Willebrand disease, a blood disorder.

At one point in her life, Gibeau said, she was taking more than 30 medications a day as well as undergoing dialysis sessions three times a week.

“Knowing that this is the outcome of the future, that she’s doing this for me, is amazing,” Gibeau said of her sister. “My sister has always been there for me. So knowing that she’s giving me a brighter outcome, that she’s doing this — I feel so thankful, so blessed.”

The surgery is expected to extend Gibeau’s life for 40 years, she said her doctors told her.

“God doesn’t make mistakes when he creates you,” she said. “Maybe everyone will pay attention, maybe everybody will donate for a family member that’s going through this.”

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