'Life Given Back' to New Mom by ABC News Colleague

This is a story about two friends, a kidney transplant and the complications that arose along the way.

We've come to take the transplants for granted. Around 17,000 kidney transplants are performed each year.

This story was close to me because I knew both the donor and the recipient. The only person I didn't know was the one who was the inspiration behind what happened. Her name was Madeleine -- Madi, for short. She was 5 months old at the time.

The donor's name was Joan LeFosse. She assigns production staff who gather story material for "20/20," where I work.

The recipient was Ani Mozian-Whitney, a field producer who once received most of her assignments from Joan.

I can't be objective in writing this, because I've worked with them for years at ABC. I attended Joan's wedding and a birthday celebration for Ani. We've all mourned the loss of loved ones who died too young.

But there was also an unexpected element: You find out that however close you thought you were to your friends, you may not have known the most important thing about them.

One thing I never realized was how deep the friendship between Joan and Ani went. Both had gone through emotional havoc in their lives. For Joan, it was related to an overwhelming feeling of helplessness as the friend and mentor who had seen unique potential in her and helped place her at ABC -- a high school teacher named Nancy Pfifferling -- died of lung cancer.

I will never forget how devastated Joan was by the loss, and one of the people Joan turned to during that time was Ani.

"She really got me through a period when I felt like I was drowning," Joan said. "She got me above the water."

Ani first experienced chronic kidney failure in her 20s -- doctors don't know why -- and she received a kidney transplant at the age of 25.

When she married Wil Whitney in her mid-30s, one of their goals was to have a baby, despite the additional strain it might put on Ani's transplanted kidney. It was a risk her doctors agreed to and Joan understood how much Ani had invested emotionally in the prospect.

"It's probably the greatest thing she's ever wanted in her life," Joan said.

The problems arose in the third trimester of Ani's pregnancy. Her kidney function began to decline. Doctors monitored her constantly, but saw no improvement.

Dr. David Cohen, the medical director of renal transplantation at New York's Columbia University Medical Center, noticed that "all of a sudden, from her perspective, things started to fall apart. We would go week by week, and when things really started to become problematic, it was clear that if we went too much further, we would endanger the mother and the baby."

The decision was to deliver the baby seven weeks early by Caesarean section. And if there was ever a doubt that Ani is a typically obsessive news producer, that was erased the day she gave birth -- Feb. 2, 2008 -- when she said to her anesthesiologist: "Don't forget to cue my husband."

She wanted to make sure that Wil had gotten the money shots with his digital camera.

The star of that moment was the girl they would name Madeleine H. Whitney. The H stands for hope.

"We were hysterical, crying for joy," Ani said. "And the most amazing photo came out of this."

"Our doctor is holding the baby out, and Madi's just reaching up into the air," Wil said, "like she's looking up to God. And there's a light coming down right on her. Little blessed baby."

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