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But the sisters’ story doesn’t end there. Their experience inspired their aunt, Shirley Gilman, to create a fund that would help pay for the expenses incurred by both kidney transplant patients at UNC and kidney donors, whose expenses aren’t always covered by insurance. Gilman named the fund in honor of the sisters’ brother,
Gilman donated to the fund bit by bit over the years as she could, a couple hundred dollars here, a thousand there, until she passed away in 2008 . Then, in her will, she surprised everyone by leaving $4.7 million to the Allan Brewster Fund for the benefit of the UNC Kidney Center.
Now, 18 years after their transplant surgery, the sisters returned to UNC on Tuesday (March 10) to celebrate everything their aunt’s gift has made possible. Carmen, who loves to play tennis, says she was playing again two months after her transplant. Marisa, a psychology professor at Santa Fe College in Florida, has since given birth to a daughter who is now almost 12 years old.
Gilman’s generous bequest now supports a kidney donor fund, a public awareness campaign, a fellowship to help train kidney transplant providers and a distinguished professorship to support an established nephrologist (kidney doctor).
It’s a wonderful story that shows how just one unselfish act can blossom into something much larger, something that touches the lives of many.
You can listen to the sisters tell their story in their . Media outlets that covered the sisters’ story include News 14, NBC-17 and .