“Maria Fareri Saved Her Life”

Kidney transplant

Adobe Stock / hywards

The first kidney transplant patient at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is doing great, thanks to her skilled medical team — and her dad.

In 2002, Valerie Portelle was born with congenital nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease. When she was 2 years old, she had the first-ever kidney transplant at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. The donor was her father, who passed away last March from glioblastoma.

Portelle, a resident of Nanuet, has had no further surgeries, although she has been hospitalized several times during her recovery. Other than having a scar, taking daily immunosuppressive medication, having regular blood testing and visiting her pediatric nephrologist, Tanya Pereira, MD, she is indistinguishable from her peers. “I feel great,” she says, “I’ve never really felt sick.” She enjoys travel, working out and playing golf, a pastime her dad introduced her to. Now a nursing student at Sacred Heart University, she hopes to become a pediatric or NICU nurse. “Being in and out of the hospital my whole life and seeing how the nurses took care of me, I understand what kids go through, and I can help them,” she says.

Portelle describes Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital as an amazing facility. “The doctors and nurses really do care; they just make you feel a hundred times better.” Adds her mother, Jeanine Portelle, “The care we receive there is incredible. You’d never know she had a transplant. Maria Fareri saved her life.”