Press-Register | Casandra Andrews
Photo: Mobile resident Nell Portella, left, is donating a kidney to her sister, Suzanne Mullen of Fairhope. Both women work at Westminster Village retirement community in Spanish Fort, where other employees have donated hundreds of hours of vacation time to help them continue to get paid as they recover from the operations planned for May 21.
In her 20s, Suzanne Mullen discovered she had a condition known as polycystic kidney disease, where large cysts can develop and encompass the kidneys.
About half of those diagnosed with PKD typically have kidney failure by the time they are 60, health statistics show.
Two years ago, Mullen, now 49, a nurse at Westminster Village retirement community in Spanish Fort, began dialysis when her kidneys could no longer function on their own.
Eventually, she was put on a list for a transplant and started a personal search for a donor. She didn’t have to look far. Mullen’s sister, Nell Portella, turned out to be a good match.
Portella, 46, who also works at Westminster in the housekeeping department, said she was relieved to be able to help her only sister.