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Volunteer Spotlight: Marissa Arvonio

A resident of Tampa, Florida, Marissa was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the young age of four with complications later following her in her twenties. In 2017, Marissa was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIPD), which left her with severe nerve damage so extensive she was unable to walk. In 2018, a time when Marissa, a newlywed who should have been celebrating her honeymoon, went into kidney failure and had to begin hemodialysis, requiring her new husband to become her caregiver. On June 15th, 2020, miraculously on her 35th birthday, Marissa received a kidney and pancreas transplant. As a result of her new pancreas, Marissa no longer has Type 1 diabetes, and thanks to her transplanted kidney, she is off dialysis and her CIDP is in remission. Marissa went from not being able to walk long distances or hold her balance to biking 15 miles a day with no walking restrictions. An avid gardener, cook and DIY enthusiast Marissa is very excited to travel, visit family and friends, and catch up on all the things she missed due to years of illness.

Since joining the LifeLink of Florida volunteer program, Marissa enjoys sharing her story, promoting awareness and, “paying forward” her renewed health by encouraging others to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. During her journey as a volunteer, Marissa has met recipients and donor family members, whom she can now call friends and most recently, Marissa learned the identity of her own donor and has connected with her donor’s family.

We want to thank Marissa for her many hours of service as a LifeLink ORGANizer. If you are interested in sharing the importance of organ and tissue donation and want to learn more about how you can aid in helping spread the Donate Life message, sign up to be a volunteer!  To learn more information on organ, eye and tissue donation or to register your donation decision, click here.