By Michelle Colesanti

Have you ever thought what it might be like to become a super hero? You can give the gift of life to another person by signing up to become an organ, tissue and eye donor through LifeLink of Florida. This independent, non-profit organization is dedicated to serving patients in need of transplant therapy.

April is ‘Donate a Life’ month. In the U.S., over 118,000 people currently wait for a lifesaving organ transplant. Over 5,600 are Floridians.

The Rainieri’s are a local family that knows all too well the importance of organ donors. Born in 2011, their son Evan was diagnosed with stage 4 chronic Kidney Disease as a result of hypoplasia. Evan spent his first month in the NICU at Tampa General Hospital and underwent his first surgery at four days old. The battle was endless and he spent many hours on dialysis.

Evan’s mom Melissa said, “We were told that dialysis was a bridge to transplant and while transplant was not a cure that the ultimate goal was to get Evan big enough to receive a kidney. Our prior thoughts of dialysis were our biggest misconception. Although the days were long it was a chapter of his story that lifted weights from our shoulders while a machine literally worked to compensate what his body could not do.”

She then had the opportunity to give life once again to her son by donating her kidney to him.

“We’ve come a long way, our family is strong and we have all learned to accept kidney disease. Someday it will haunt us again because having a chronic illness doesn’t go away. However, God uses our deepest pain as a launching pad for our greatest calling,” added Melissa.

Today Evan is a healthy and energetic 6 year Kindergartener living life to the fullest. He is no longer tube fed and has had surgery to remove his dialysis catheters.

The family has now become an active advocate for LifeLink Foundation.

All major religions support donation and there are no costs to the donor’s family. To save lives as an organ and tissue donor, register at, or say “yes” to donation when getting or renewing your driver license or state identification card at your local driver license office. 

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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.