"We went in happily," Kenmore mother Barbara Ann LaDuca said Sunday. "And we came out winners!" said her daughter, Kimberly Ann.
They share a lot of sentences, and thoughts, these days. "It's a kind of ESP -- it's only happened since the surgery," said Kimberly, 21, of the operations last November in which Mrs. LaDuca, 52, give her gravely ill daughter one of her own kidneys.
"There was a lot of fear involved, at least for me, but never any question that I would do it," recalled Mrs. LaDuca.
This time last year, Kimberly was on dialysis three times a week. She felt "terribly sick," and was close to death twice -- once she was declared "clinically dead." For a time, Kimberly was blind in one eye.
Today, the pretty, wavy-haired young woman can do "anything I want as long as it's not dangerous" and is taking post-degree classes at Erie Community College with an eye toward the School of Management at the University at Buffalo.
Her father, Arthur J. LaDuca, is "happy about the whole thing. What I like best is seeing my daughter leading a normal life because my wife gave her a kidney," he said. "I see the results every day. What more can I say? It's wonderful."
Kimberly's physician, Dr. Roland Anthone, who, with his twin brother, Dr. Sidney Anthone, performed the transplant operations, said Sunday: "Kimberly is doing very well. She has excellent kidney function. She should be able to lead a completely normal life. She's very lucky. We have been doing 40 to 50 kidney transplants but, this year, we're down. There aren't many (compatible) kidneys available -- throughout the country."
A graduate of Kenmore West High School and ECC, where she majored in business administration, Kimberly first learned of her kidney disease when she was 14. She was trying out for sports at school when "something abnormal" showed up in a routine urine test.
"I was told that someday I would probably need a transplant, probably in five or six years," she said. "I never felt sick so I never thought about it. I was going to school, having fun, playing softball, being with friends -- I was leading the perfect teen-age life. Then, two Novembers ago, I started having symptoms."
First came very high blood pressure, then blindness in one eye, then dialysis -- and finally the need for a donor.
"We had to wait seven months because I had some lung complications that needed to be taken care of first," said Mrs. LaDuca, who also went, as required, to a psychiatrist before donating a kidney to her daughter.
"I told the psychiatrist straight out that I was scared and that I thought anyone in my place would be," she said. "But I was going to do it no matter what: Kimberly was getting sicker by the minute. Maybe she hadn't thought about it all those years since she was 14, but I had always had it on my mind. And my mind was made up when I was told, 'You're the only one to do this.' I love my daughter. There was no other way."
Mother and daughter, who go out together and share a Lhasa apso dog named "Mischief," both have happy memories of the last days and the night before the Nov. 15 transplant operation in Buffalo General Hospital.
"We laughed a lot. We knew it had to be done and that it was finally happening," said Kimberly. "Only, I was worried about what my mother was going through, what it would mean to her physically and emotionally."
Mrs. LaDuca, in turn, was worried about Kimberly's father, "who had so much weighing on him." She was worried about her daughter, "especially right after the surgery. I wasn't allowed to see Kimberly for three days. I was in pain. I worried that she was too."
But, Kimberly said, "the surgery really wasn't painful for me, considering what it was. I think the whole thing has been more 'rosy' for me than it has for my mother. She still has some pain. I don't have any. I feel great. I want to put the past behind me. She can't. I got my energy back sooner than she did. Before, I was depending so much on her. Now she has to depend a lot on me."