CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Late one night, Brunna Martins was scrolling through Facebook when she came upon a plea from a City of Coral Springs employee who was looking for a kidney donor.
Something about the man’s eyes spoke to the Fort Lauderdale pediatric nurse.
“He had a kind soul,” she said.
And just like that, Martins, 36, decided to offer the 59-year-old father one of her kidneys.
The mother of a 5-year-old reached out to Frank Molino and soon found out she was the right match.
And nearly a year after seeing that Facebook post, they were both in surgery, giving Molino a chance to restore his life.
Today, six months later, the two are good friends, meeting for holidays and talking frequently about “Katie” – the kidney Martins donated to Molino.
Earlier this month, Coral Springs recognized Martins in a public commission meeting for “her altruism in saving a life.”
“Who does something like this?” said Molino, who has worked as a city parks and recreation maintenance coordinator for 36 years. “She’s extraordinary. She doesn’t want anything in return. Just knowing her makes me a better person.”
Molino, who was feeling weak and facing end-stage renal failure before the transplant, said he is doing much better with a new kidney.
Martins said she feels fine too, a small scar on her belly is the only reminder of her giving up the kidney.
“I now feel more fulfilled as a person,” said Martins, who works at Salah Foundation Children's Hospital at Broward Health in Fort Lauderdale.
Born in São Paulo, Brazil and raised in South Florida, Martins never envisioned donating her kidney.
But Molino reminded her of her father, she said, and she didn’t want Molino’s two adult children to suffer if he passed away waiting to find a kidney donor.
“I’ve been a risk-taker for most of my life, and I was waiting for something in my life to give me more purpose,” she said. “If I had three kidneys, I’d donate another one.”
When Martins reached out to Molino, he was on a national registry for a kidney donor as his health deteriorated.
Molino’s wife, Helene, didn’t want him to wait potentially years to quality through the registry.
So she took to social media to find a donor on her own, hoping for a kindhearted person to answer her call.
Molino urges others waiting for a donor to do the same thing.
“Don’t wait. Get out there and tell your story,” he said.
Martins expects to stay in touch with Molino for years to come. She considers him family.
“The journey is just beginning,” she said.
If you are considering donating a kidney, learn more here.