Sammy Got Her Kidney

Less than 3 months ago, “06880” posted a plea from Scott Brownlow. His 20-year-old daughter Sammy — a lifelong Westporter — needed a kidney.

Sammy Brownlow

Sammy Brownlow

Born with congenital abnormalities, she’d endured multiple surgeries. Some worked, but they took a toll on her one remaining kidney. A transplant was the only option.

Scott always assumed he’d be the donor for his gentle, hard-working, multi-talented daughter — currently a pre-med student at RPI. But doctors said he was not a viable option.

Family and friends offered — but no one was cleared to donate. Sammy desperately needed a match.

On Christmas Day, Scott emailed me again. Two weeks earlier, his daughter had gotten her most precious gift: a kidney.

The donor was her kindergarten teacher, Jennifer Giannino.

Sammy and Jenn, in kindergarten.

Sammy and Jenn, in kindergarten.

She has known Sammy ever since that class at the Unquowa School, 17 years ago. Jenn went on to teach in Westport a couple of years later, but Scott, his wife Karen Minkowitz and Sammy kept in touch. They’ve become part of each other’s families.

A year ago, Jenn wondered if she’d be a match. But there was too much going on in her family and life to do the test.

This fall, when Sammy was about to go on dialysis, Jenn got tested. The match was made.

Jenn has been very healthy all her life. Before her pre-test CT scan, she’d never had an IV. Now she volunteered to put her life on hold, spend days in the hospital, and lose an organ — all for a former kindergarten student.

“It’s a rare person who acts so selflessly,” Scott says.

Addressing her directly, he adds: “Jenn, you are an amazing and beautiful person. We can never thank you enough for the gift you have given Sammy. We love you.”

“06880” does too. Happy holidays indeed!

Sammy and Jenn, 2 days after the transplant.

Sammy and Jenn, 2 days after the transplant.


17 responses to “Sammy Got Her Kidney

  1. WOW, what an amazing gift. My son had Mrs Giannino for kindergarten and Sammy sounds like an amazing girl !!!!
    My thoughts and prayers are with both families for a happy and HEALTHY New Year !!!

  2. Could not have happened to a more well deserving family and a fabulous teacher and friend! So happy for Sammy, Karen, and Scott and Jen! Happy New Year!

  3. WOW INDEED! What a beautiful gift for a beautiful family. My girls did not have Mrs. Giannino at LLS, but she always had a warm welcoming smile for all. What an amazing, selfless act. Happy holidays to all and best wishes to both Sammy and Jen!

  4. Beautiful story ! Best wishes to Sammy and Jenn.

  5. An amazing story.

  6. Maite Hernandez

    Special Person Indeed… Jenn Giannino has taught three of my kids and this courageous act has touched of all our hearts. Lucas is counting the days til she comes back to school. Happy Holidays !

  7. Beautiful story!!!!

  8. Debbie Wilson Hoult

    Fantastic news. My husband had a kidney transplant nearly 6 years ago and life has changed for the better….we were fortunate that I could give him one of mine. Speedy recovery to you Sammy and Jenn!

  9. It is so nice to read something positive and uplifting!

  10. Your best story of the year, Dan !!! Thank you.
    Speedy healing to both Sammy and Jenn. <3


    God bless them both…

  12. Agree Dan, one of your best updates EVER! So happy for Sammy, Karen and Scott…and Jenn is obviously a very special person. Wishing ALL good things to Sammy and Jenn in the New Year.

  13. We need more people like Jenn!

  14. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    I don’t know any of the people involved, but that is an amazing story.

  15. ‘Such a wonderful story…..thank you for sharing, Dan. Congratulations to Sammy (and her family) at this wonderful time! Jenn has clearly given a priceless gift – truly a sign of her generosity of character. We did know her at LLS, but now in an entirely new light!

  16. Amazing story with a Happy Ending. A true gift at a Magical time of year!
    Congrats to all…

  17. Janet Wahnquist

    One of the most wonderful stories to start the New year. Knowing Jen, it is “just what Jen would do!” Extraordinary human being!!