MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Here’s an incredible story of sisterly love. First, a Long Island woman donated a kidney to her sister and then she carried her baby. It was an inspirational medical odyssey that shows dreams can come true.
This motherhood moment would never have happened if not for an incredible bond of sisterhood. Katy Monte has cystic fibrosis and has spent her life in and out of hospitals. “When Katy was born, they told my mom she wouldn’t graduate high school,” sister Christine Zammit said.
“When I was 26, my doctors told me if I didn’t have a double-lung transplant I wouldn’t survive more than two years,” Monte said.
She defied the odds and became a nurse and a warrior, surviving two double-lung transplants. “I ended up on life support. My kidneys started to fail,” Monte said.
She needed a kidney transplant, so her big sister donated one of hers. Monte dreamed of becoming a mother. Zammit came through again. “I’m blessed with health and two healthy children. I just feel lucky in my life and I’m happy to pay it forward,” Zammit said.
“She didn’t hesitate because that is who Christine is. She is the most loving and giving, best person I have ever known,” Monte added.
After years of attempts, surrogacy was a success.
Baby Riley came into the world on Tuesday at Katz Women’s Hospital of North Shore University Hospital, carried by her aunt, Christine. “Honestly, I have no words. I never thought this moment would ever happen and I’m just incredibly grateful and blessed that Christine was able to do this for me and for us,” Monte said.
“The fact that she now is here with a baby, and she is healthy. Everyone should be an organ donor because if it wasn’t for organ donation, she wouldn’t be here, the baby wouldn’t be here,” added Dr. Randi Rothstein of Katz Women’s Hospital.
“I don’t think that there is ever going to be a way that I can ever truly express how amazing and thankful we are for giving me a kidney and keeping me alive, and now giving me this living, breathing miracle,” Monte said.
There were tears of joy from a grateful new daddy, too. “I’ve been a puddle for 24 hours,” Joe Monte said.
Katy Monte said she will find a way to pay her sister’s kindness forward and teach Riley about the gift that gave her life. “I want her to know how special and amazing her aunt is,” she said.
There are five sisters in this family. Each has given a daughter the middle name Kathryn after their warrior aunt. Now baby Riley shares that middle name, as a lifelong reminder of her mother’s determination and the gift of sisterhood.