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College Friendship Saving a Life

Buffalo, New York – July 19, 2012 – Euripides wrote more than 2000 years ago: “Friends show their love in times of trouble.”

His words ring true today and could not be more evident than a friend helping a friend stay alive through an organ donation.

While organ donations are being done more and more today, a unique story of two individuals who met at D’Youville College a decade ago shows the depth of their friendship.

Ryan Miller, a D’Youville graduate, is an academic advisor at the college. He met his wife Nicole on campus and the two D’Youville graduates married last October. They are expecting their first child in December.

Born with Renal Tubular Acidosis and hypertension, a combination that led to chronic kidney disease, Ryan was told this year that unless he gets a donor kidney he was not expected to live more than five to seven years.

Word that Ryan needed a donor kidney went around the college campus and soon Ryan had five people who matched his medical profile and willing to donate their kidney to save Ryan.

Unbeknownst to Ryan, his long time best friend, Lisa Brennan, whom he met ten years ago when she was 17 and a freshman at D’Youville, went to be tested. She was one of the five who met the donor requirements. In fact, she was on the top of the list as the best matching donor.

Ryan and Lisa were close friends all through college and they never lost touch even after graduation. "We hit it off immediately and she became like a sister to me, “Ryan said. "We hung out a lot but never dated or became romantically involved. I became and continue to be a close friend to her and her entire family. "My wife and I go to all their family events and Lisa was at my wedding and even the bridal shower for my wife." Obviously, their strong friendship continues today.

Lisa, now a teacher at the Stanley G. Falk School in Buffalo, and whose father Tim is vice president of Institutional Advancement at D'Youville, said while she knew Ryan had medical problems she learned in March he would need a donor kidney and was given a few years to live if he did not get one.

"I didn't tell him I went to be tested and I really did not think I would be a good match, but thankfully I was," she said.

A kidney donation is a momentous decision for a donor and Lisa still had to make the life–saving decision to donate one of her kidneys. “What convinced me to do it beside our friendship was a television report (Ch. 2 "Kidney Connection") that told of a man who donated his kidney to a complete stranger. "That firmed up my decision," she said.

She told Ryan.

He was dumbfounded and touched. "I didn't know what to say. I thought it would take years to find a donor if I was lucky and being recently married and a baby on the way it was extremely stressful for my family," he said. "Lisa is more than a best friend."

"I am forever grateful for Lisa's selfless and courageous gift of life that she is choosing to give to my husband," Ryan's wife Nicole said. "I am blessed beyond measure because she has given a piece of herself to save Ryan. I wish more people like Lisa existed in the world so that others could have a second lease on life. I will never be able to put into words how much she means to my family or me. It's a lifelong bond that we will share."

"I’m extremely happy to be helping my buddy Ryan and his wife, especially with the upcoming birth of their first child, Lisa said. "It’s also very humbling to be able to do this."

The six-hour long procedure is set for August 20 at Erie County Medical Center with Dr. Mark Laftavi, surgical director of the transplant program at the Center, leading the surgical team.

The entire D'Youville campus community has pitched in with a large fund raising benefit set for August 10 in the College Center to help the Millers meet medical costs not covered by insurance.

"D’Youville is a major part of my life," Ryan noted. "I was well educated, met Nicole, and the friend who would save my life, all at D'Youville."

Euripides was right.

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