Westport woman receives kidney from former teacher

Kindergarten teacher Jen Giannino gave a former student one of her kidneys.

Kindergarten teacher Jen Giannino gave a former student one of her kidneys. (3/9/15)

WESTPORT - Tuesday marks three months since a Westport woman received a life-saving gift from her former teacher.

Sammy Brownlow, 21, says she was born with a number of congenital issues, polycystic kidney disease among them. She knew that a transplant would eventually be needed, but her parents were not viable donors.

Jen Giannino, Brownlow's former kindergarten teacher, stayed in touch with her and her family over the years. She stepped in to provide Brownlow with one of her kidneys.

"Obviously, it was the right thing to do," Giannino said. "I wanted to help make Sammy's life easier."

The surgery took place Dec. 10 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The donated kidney has since been named "Sidney."

Brownlow says her doctors are happy with the progress she has made. She is taking this semester off, but will be applying as a transfer student to other colleges. She plans to change her major to pre-med.

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