The longer Monica Fox of Flossmoor, Ill. spent on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, the more she learned about organ donation.

“I learned that people die every day waiting for a transplant,” Monica said. “I didn’t want to be one of them. I believe God had a plan for my life, so I became an advocate for organ donation through the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network.”

It all began in November 2013, when Monica went to the doctor to treat what she thought was just a sinus infection. It was at that

appointment, she learned her kidneys were not performing well, was placed on dialysis and was added a list of more than 3,500 people in Illinois who were waiting for a kidney transplant.

“I was told I was looking at a five-to-seven year wait before a kidney would be found,” said Monica. “I didn’t want to sit back and wait, so I decided to be as proactive as I could to help not only myself but to raise awareness about the thousands of people who are waiting for an organ transplant.”

With the help of others, she produced a video about her experience waiting for a transplant and shared her story on social media. Several friends came forward offering to donate a kidney, but none were a match. However, Monica never gave up hope.

Almost three years to the day and two days before Thanksgiving in November 2016, Monica received her gift of life at the University of Illinois Chicago Medical Center.

“I received a directed donation from a friend’s family, and it was a perfect match,” she said. “My recovery has been amazingly easy, my labs have been stable and my advocacy continues with renewed and reinvigorated purpose.”

One goal has been to participate in the 2018 Transplant Games of America. The Transplant Games is a multi-sport festival event produced by the Transplant Life Foundation for individuals who have undergone life-saving transplant surgeries. This event is designed to increase awareness of the life-restoring importance of organ, cornea, bone marrow, and tissue donation through the lives of the athlete-recipients and the lasting legacy of their donors.

Thanks to a sponsorship provided by the Gift of Hope, Monica will fulfill her goal of participating in the Transplant Games and will compete in ballroom dancing by dancing the waltz with partner Vince Shavers. Monica will also participate in bowling, the 5k race and racquetball events.