Tiffany McCullough

Ella Gilbert Needs A LIVING Kidney DONOR

Just imagine, we’ll all have more “Sunshine” to share with the world, as my “Elmo” spreads infectious joy to those she encounters!

Ella, or “Elmo” as she’s lovingly known by (by me, at least), just so happens to be my dear mother. Her father, my late grandfather, was infamous for issuing nicknames to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This ingrained tradition is the very essence of why my mom has “Elmo” as one of her many nicknames. Think about it... when you think of Elmo’s character, your likely to think of the color “red” and joy-filled, infectious laughter. Well, when I think about my mom, I think about pure joy! She’s always available for a good joke, and simply loves to love others. Notably, she loves on others through her knack for crafting; whether it’s jewelry, shirts, blinging-out shoes, or designing custom greeting cards. We work on craft designs together and often brainstorm about her next “big thing”. Yep, she’s a hidden entrepreneur. I truly admire my mom — she’s tenacious, highly creative, incredibly loving and somehow, she’s still manages to scare me with occasional “don’t try me” stares. Yep, she’s momma is every way; and she is so loved!

Since my mom was diagnosed with kidney failure, I’ve noticed her physical energy and, quite frankly, her “Sunshine” diminish. Yes, you guessed it, Sunshine is another one of her nicknames. I can’t imagine receiving such news and coping with the daily strains that accompany such a diagnosis. I witness my mother navigate these strains, daily. I remember when my mom would wake early on a Saturday, turn on jazz (Maysa, to be specific), and clean the house while preparing a delicious spread for breakfast. It was like clockwork. While my brothers and I dreaded the sound of music waking us up early on Saturday’s, we always knew that sausage, scrambled eggs with American cheese, pancakes and fruit on the side, was to follow. Even as an adult, no longer living in my parents home, I’d call my mom early on Saturday mornings, and like clockwork, she’d be cleaning, cooking and singing her favorite Maysa tunes. While some may frown at the idea of Saturday cleaning, my mom loved and loves keeping a clean, welcoming home. Kidney failure has not only drained my mom’s energy; but it has also caused her to feel ill constantly. As a result, my mom struggles to wake-up before 10am and often has just enough energy to eat a small breakfast prepared by herself or my father. Then, back to the bed she goes to recover from the energy expended to perform a very basic function - eating breakfast. If you know my mom, you know that she loves to host family and friends, sit on the patio to play Scrabble and occasionally hop in the car to take long rides (while blasting ... you guessed it... Maysa), just because. Today, my mom is mostly confined to her bed, and not by choice. Her nickname, Sunshine, is so fitting because even while feeling ill, my mom will still try to help others, even from her bed. Even while feeling ill, she’ll try to create new crafts or prepare a meal, all to try to maintain a sense of normalcy. A kidney transplant would revive so many facets of my mom’s once vibrant life. She still has so much to do! It’s amazing how much a person can yearn to do what they are no longer physically able to do. I see it in my mom’s eyes. I hear it in her voice. As crazy as it sounds, if my mom were feeling better today, she’d spend hours deep cleaning her home, and would enjoy every second - I just know it! A kidney transplant would also mean that my mom could join my dad for walks and impromptu car rides... a favorite pastime. Have you ever thought about what it’s like to no longer be able to engage in conversations of any length? Probably not because it’s a basic, daily part of life. Well, for my mom, this is very real. After a few words, my mom is winded and is in need of rest to recover from an extremely short conversation. What a joy it would be for her to just be able to share her day with others without loosing her breath.

I’m helping my mom look for a living kidney donor, so that she may smile again. I’d love it if you would share my moms story and my story about my mom with your friends and family. Just imagine, we’ll all have more “Sunshine” to share with the world, as my “Elmo” spreads infectious joy to those she encounters!


Become Ella Gilbert's Donor

If you are considering being a living donor please use links below to contact Ella Gilbert's Transplant Center. Begin by completing the donor questionnaire

Johns Hopkins Hospital

1800 Orleans St, Baltimore, MD, 21287

Did you know?

Medical expenses for living organ donors are 100% covered, and inquires from potential donors are 100% confidential! Contact the Transplant Center to learn more about living donation.

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