Trinity Swimming Coach Recognized for Selflessness

Swimming and Diving Coach Kristen Noone has been named a 2003 Saint Francis Woman of Character.  Each year, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center recognizes women from the community who “represent the courage, spiritual strength, fortitude and compassion that has effected positive change and made a profound difference in the lives and circumstances of others.”  Four winners were chosen this year from more than 150 nominations.       

For Noone, who came to Trinity in 1999, it all started with a trip to the dentist in 2002.  She was in the waiting room for a regular cleaning appointment when she noticed a letter posted on the wall asking for a kidney donor.  Noone, who several years ago had donated bone marrow that saved the life of a 17 year-old leukemia patient, felt compelled to look into it.  Through a call to Debbie Rizzo of Avon, the wife of the intended recipient, she learned that a suitable donor had already been located.  Noone left her telephone number just in case.  Shortly thereafter, she got a call: there was a medical problem with the original donor.  David Rizzo still needed a kidney.  “Debbie was literally crying on the phone with me,” says Noone.  “She was frantic.”

After several visits to Hartford Hospital for pre-surgical examinations and consultations, Noone went in for surgery.  She met the Rizzos on the day of the surgery.  “It happened so quickly,” she says, “I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about it.  The hardest part for me was getting an MRI because I’m totally claustrophobic.”

Following the successful surgery, Noone says, “I was in a lot of pain.  I remember waking up very dehydrated.  They don’t give you water; it’s kind of like torture.”  For the next few days, she limited her visitors to her mother and Associate Athletic Director Robin Sheppard.  “When Robin saw me, she was horrified,” Noone recalls with a laugh.  “I was miserable.  I actually banned my friends from coming to see me.”

A former all-conference swimmer at Boston College, Noone’s excellent physical condition surely aided in her recovery.  It took about a month before she started to feel healthy again, and another couple of months before she was able to resume her regular routine of running, swimming, and soccer.  But now, she says, she is fine – with no complications.  “I feel exactly the same as I did before the donation.”

Why did she put herself through such an ordeal?  “I truly believe it is our moral responsibility as healthy human beings to help someone out who isn’t as fortunate.  Dave is a wonderful man who respects and appreciates what was given to him.  I’ve gotten to help two very special people survive.  And in the process, I’ve met some wonderful people who are now very much a part of my life.  So, I think, I’m the lucky one.”


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