Like any other sisters, Amanda and Breanna Nicastro share plenty of jokes. Unlike most sisters, they also share a special bond in kidney donation.
“I’m not a hero,” Amanda told InsideEdition.com. “I just did the right thing, you know?”
Amanda, of New York City, will be performing her one-woman show, “I’m Just Kidneying” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this month to chronicle her journey donating her kidney and all the love and laughter that got her to that point.
“There's over 5,000 shows there, so I definitely feel like a tiny little grain of sand on a huge beach,” she said of the upcoming show. “But I am looking forward to the opportunity to make people laugh and to raise awareness about organ donation and transplantation.”
Talk of organ donation and kidney disease has been in their family ever since Amanda and Breanna were growing up in the Bronx.
In the fourth grade, Breanna was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, “which means it was not a matter of if she needed a kidney, it was a matter of when,” Amanda said.
And, for just as long, Amanda knew she would be the one to give her the organ transplant.
“What am I going to say to my sister? Like, ‘I don’t know. Good luck. I’m not going to help you,’” Amanda joked. “'I’m just going to go to the sister store and buy a new sister.’”
Their dad donated Breanna a kidney when she was still a teenager, but she eventually needed a second. When Amanda was tested, the family was heartbroken to find she wasn’t a match.
But thanks to a paired kidney donation program, Breanna was able to get her kidney and Amanda was able to donate anyway.
The process to donation, however, was rocky.
“You have to do a 24-hour urine collection. They give you an orange jug and you have to keep it cold,” Amanda recalled. “I took it on the subway system and I’m standing there with my cooler, and of course some creeper comes up to me and is like, ‘Hey, are you going on a picnic?’ Should I have just told him it was a cooler full of my own urine?”
And she hardly remembered the moments before and after the surgery.
“The last thing I remember before going into surgery, they were like, ‘Oh, we can't find your surgeon,’” Amanda said. “They wheeled me back into the holding area and I don’t remember this, but I started playing peekaboo with my sister across the hallway.”
Breanna’s kidney disease is now in remission following the 2014 transplant, and Amanda now hopes her experience encourages others to become organ donors.
“If you have the opportunity to give someone a second chance on life, I would encourage you to do it because it's a great, very rewarding feeling,” she said.