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Recipient of Takiya Holmes’ kidney: ‘I have an angel with me’

Dr. Yolanda Becker, who performed Darvece Monson’s kidney transplant surgery on Friday, said on Sunday that Monson should be able to return to her active lifestyle with the help of Takiya Holmes' kidney. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times

It has been less than a week since Takiya Holmes died.

And already, the 11-year-old girl is on her way to saving eight lives.

The young shooting victim’s family decided after her death to donate her organs to patients in need. Now, recipients like Darvece Monson, the sister of Takiya’s aunt, are expressing gratitude amid the grief.

“I have an angel with me,” Monson said Sunday at University of Chicago Medical Center, a few days after receiving Takiya’s kidney.

Takiya died Tuesday at Comer Children’s Hospital after being struck by a stray bullet on Feb. 11. She was sitting next to her 3-year-old brother in the back seat of a van when gunfire erupted around 7:40 p.m. in the 6500 block of South King Drive in the Parkway Gardens neighborhood. Antwan C. Jones, the 19-year-old charged with her murder, has been ordered held without bail.

After Takiya’s death, her grandmother, Patsy Holmes, said the little girl had been kept on life support so her organs could be used for transplants. Monson told reporters on Sunday that “everyone lost here,” and she’s “still processing” the selfless decision made by the Holmes family in the midst of their grief for Takiya.

“She’s not even buried yet,” Monson said.

Monson said her health problems date back to her 2007 pregnancy, but it wasn’t until she became nauseated while traveling in 2015 that she went to the hospital and learned her “kidneys had been suffering in silence.” The marathoner and triathlete said she lost her house and her job while struggling through dialysis. Meanwhile, she founded More Than Your Kidneys, an organization aimed at helping patients like herself.

A few months ago, Monson said she had been preparing for a transplant surgery only to see her donor back out. But Dr. Yolanda Becker, the doctor who performed Monson’s surgery on Friday, said Monson should now be able to return to her active lifestyle with the help of Takiya’s kidney.

Becker said there are 100,000 people on the kidney transplant list, and nearly 19,000 transplants performed a year, so “clearly there’s an imbalance of supply and demand.”

The doctor also called the Holmes’ family’s decision to donate Takiya’s organs “a completely selfless act at a time when there was a senseless tragedy.”

“The blessings that they’ve given are unbelievable,” Becker said.