Advocate video: Oak Cliff artist gets best friend’s kidney, fundraiser planned

Monaliza Morris and Jenny Vann became friends in middle school in Hawaii, where both their dads were stationed in the  Air Force.

“We were inseparable,” says Morris. “We had classes together. Almost everyday after school, we’d go for long walks around the neighborhood. We planned movie nights at her house, inviting a mix of foreign and American students. We made outfits and did our hair up.”

Typical kid stuff. But their friendship never dwindled. They both moved to Texas eventually, and Morris considers herself part of Vann’s family — she spends Christmas every year with Vann and her family.

Morris, a commercial artist who lives in Oak Cliff, was laid off in 2009. About the same time, her mom and young niece came to live with her. And she found out that lupus — which had been diagnosed on a visit to Vann’s house in Victoria when she was in her late teens — had caused terrible damage to her kidneys. She had to have a new kidney, or she would be put on dialysis for the rest of her life.

When Vann found out, she was the first of Morris’s friends to get tested, and she was a match.

“We joke that we’re kidney sisters,” Morris says.

The transplant operation is scheduled for the first week of March. And they are hosting a fundraiser to help with medical expenses from 5-8:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at Agora Entertainment in Irving. The Art of Friendship fundraiser will include a silent art auction and live music.

To attend the event, RSVP to rafiqsalleh@gmail.com. To make a donation toward Morris’s medical expenses, go to ntafund.org. Under “Find a Patient”, type “Monaliza Morris”, select “Kidney” and “Donate”.

Advocate photo editor Turk spent some time interviewing Morris, Vann and friends Tuesday. Check out the video:


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