PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Sharing, that’s what sisterhood is all about. But the lifelong bond that local sisters share will literally save a life.

“It was terrifying. It was a terrifying thing to hear,” said Geri Whalen, a kidney transplant patient.

Whalen, 33, learned six years ago that she developed kidney disease.

Although their family has no history of the disease, doctors said that a kidney and pancreas transplant are essential to her survival.

“Forty-five hundred people die a year waiting for a kidney. It can be up to 10 years,” Whalen said. “The average wait is three to five years, and most of that time people are on dialysis. They’re getting sick. They’re getting sicker.”

Without a second thought, Whalen’s big sister, Dana, stepped up to the plate and offered to give up her kidney.

“She’s been sick ever since she’s been little,” said Dana Christner.

Another hurdle – health care costs. Although Whalen has health insurance, she faces significant expenses after her surgeries are complete.

“We were all trying to think of ways to raise money and things that we can do,” said Jennifer LaBella, another sister.

So, Whalen’s sisters decided to throw a fundraiser at Del’s Restaurant to raise money. All tips and donations will go to the National Foundation for Transplants in Whalen’s honor.

“[It’s] very hard to watch her struggle,” said sister Sondra Hathaway. “There’s no reason for people to die waiting for a kidney.”

The fundraiser will be held on Thursday, Jan. 24, beginning at 5 p.m. at Del’s Bar & Ristorante on Liberty Avenue.

For a $10 cover charge, there will be a wing and pizza appetizers, and pasta bar. There will also be a silent auction. All proceeds, tips and donations will go to NFT in Whalen’s honor.

To make a donation in Whalen’s honor, visit www.transplants.org and select Find an NFT Patient.

If you prefer to mail your contribution, donations can be sent to the NFT Pennsylvania Transplant Fund at:
5350 Poplar Avenue
Suite 430
Memphis, TN 38119
Be sure to write “in honor of Geri Whalen” in the subject line

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