No one can predict how long the transplant will last. Under the best circumstances, the kidney could be good for an additional 20 or 30 years. Success rates are greater if the donor is living.
For the two friends, it was something "we both went through that no one else can experience," said Ani.
Joan was back at work in a few weeks -- healthier, she says, because of all the dieting and exercise she did preparing for the transplant. Ani returned three months after her surgery, in September.
"Now," she said with a laugh, "I have the energy to wake up when Madi's screaming for the pacifier."
Madi Whitney is still happily unaware of all the changes and transitions in the lives around her leading up to her first Christmas. The big gift, she already has received. And sometime in the future, her mother and the person who gave it to her can tell her the story first hand.
It is about "life, and hope, and future," Joan said. "Madi is hope."
For more information on the doctors featured in this story, visit St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Transplant Center.