Joanna Navarette standing behind her mother, Maria, who holds Joanna's newborn, Jacob Jr., at Methodist Dallas Medical Center after Joanna donated a kidney to Maria

First she gave her mother a kidney, then a grandchild

Share this story now

In 2013, Joanna Navarette donated a kidney to her mother at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, the same hospital that would deliver Joanna’s son in December 2023.

“At first I didn’t want my daughter to donate her kidney to me,” says Joanna’s mother, Maria Osorio, 64. “I was worried about how young she was and the long-term effects. I thought she wasn’t going to be able to have kids.”

Maria was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2011, after years of suffering from high blood pressure, and Joanna quickly stepped up to help her mother.

“If she hadn’t donated her kidney to me,” Maria Osorio says, “I wouldn’t be alive today.”

Joanna Navarette and her mother, Maria, photograhed in a medical room while Joanna wear scrubs

Joanna and her mother, Maria, supported each other throughout the transplant.


For Joanna, who was in college at the time, there was never a doubt in her mind that she would give her ailing mother a kidney if they were a match.

When her mother was diagnosed with kidney failure, Joanna worked with the transplant coordinators at Methodist Dallas to determine whether she was a suitable donor, going through sessions that reviewed mental and physical health.

“They give you as much information as possible for you to make an educated decision for yourself on whether you really want to do this or not,” Joanna says. “It has to be a decision made by you; you have to decide if you’re up for the challenge.”

It was a challenge that Joanna would embrace and in 2013, Maria’s transplant was performed by Alejandro Mejia, MD, FACS, executive director of organ transplantation at the hospital, and Richard Dickerman, MD, FACS, surgical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant program at Methodist Dallas.

After the birth of Jacob Jr. last December, Joanna has living proof that she made the right decision.

“There’s not much of a lifestyle change,” says Joanna, a 35-year-old from Plano. “You can still do just about everything. I am an example that you can live a normal life.”

Joanna Navarette, Jacob Jr., and the baby's father, Jacob Sr., photographed right after Jacob Jr.'s birth

Jacob Jr., with his parents Joanna and Jacob, was born in December 2023 at Methodist Dallas.


Every year the Transplant Institute at Methodist Dallas hosts a party where transplant recipients and donors are welcomed to meet other patients like them. Joanna says she and her mother have attended for 12 years now and always look forward to catching up with the doctors and nurses who took care of them.

Among them was Roberto Collazo-Maldonado, MD, nephrologist on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas. After he recommended the transplant in 2012, Dr. Collazo now follows up yearly to check on Maria’s kidney function.

“Dr. Collazo and his team turned everything around,” Joanna says. “We turned to Methodist Dallas to do everything for the transplant.”

The survival rates of patients with kidney disease who receive a transplant from a living donor are significantly higher than those who receive a transplant from a donor who died, Dr. Collazo says.

“Our patients live longer when they get a kidney from a living donor,” Dr. Collazo says. “Right now we have a shortage of living donors. If we want to impact the lives of patients with kidney disease we have to promote more living donations.”

Joanna Navarette photographed kissing the side of her baby's Jacob's head while Jacob looks at the camera

Joanna and Jacob Jr. returned to Methodist Dallas in the spring of 2024 to visit the team that cared for her.


Having one kidney throughout her pregnancy did worry Joanna at first. Because Joanna was in her 30s, her doctor Sadia A. Khandaker, MD, OB-GYN on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas, wanted to ensure the kidney donation did not complicate her advanced maternal age.

“As the donor, the only thing we looked for was her kidney function, which was normal,” Dr. Khandaker says. “Otherwise, since she was not on any other medications, there were no specific management changes.”

Since her transplant, Maria has welcomed a handful of grandchildren into the family, but none more special than Jacob Jr.

“Everybody that we encountered at Methodist throughout the process with the pregnancy told me it was incredible that I came back and delivered here,” Joanna says. “It’s full circle.”