A few weeks ago, Vickie O’Neill-Haber gave the gift of life. She became a living kidney donor to a complete stranger who desperately needed a transplant.
It’s a fascinating and beautiful story, and she came on the air recently to tell us about it.
A close friend had posted on Facebook that she knew of a woman who needed a kidney transplant. And she issued a call for volunteers to be tested.
Vickie figured the odds were against being a match, so why not be tested? What could it hurt?
Well, it turned out that the long odds weren’t so long after all. Vickie was a match – much to her surprise.
“I just kept making it through each round. First, my blood type was good. Then my kidney function was good. It all just kind of spiraled from there,” she said.
The whole thing was set up to be an anonymous donation, but through a bit of sleuthing Vickie was able to eventually identify the recipient, Rachel.
Call it fate or call it providence, the two would soon have an unplanned meeting in person at a local religious event.
And, as it turns out, Rachel is a first cousin of Vickie’s Facebook friend.
All of which led Vickie – and everyone involved – to believe that this was meant to be.
Vickie said it was her sense of mercy that led her to follow through on the kidney donation.
“There are so many people who need a kidney, and most of them wait for years. They’re not able to function. They’re on dialysis. They’re bound to their house. They can’t work. They don’t have a good quality of life,” she said.
“I thought to myself, ‘If this were me. If this were one of my kids. If this were my partner or my parents. If this were anyone in my life – God forbid – who was dealing with this, I would be sitting around praying for someone to step up and make a donation. I thought, you know, why wouldn’t I be the one to do that.'”
Four weeks have passed since the surgery, and Vickie says she feels amazing. She went back to work as a school teacher after two weeks, and soon thereafter she was able to go bowling and play in her soccer league.
“Really, it was one week out of my life. One week where I was in the hospital for a couple of days,” she said.
“But, more importantly, what I saw in my recipient’s family and in my recipient, I don’t even remember what the pain felt like.”
She visited Rachel the day after the transplant. It was a meeting filled with tears of joy. There would have been some hugging, but hey, they both just had surgery.
Now, if you have an inkling that you might want to become a living kidney donor – but you’re still on the fence – Vickie has some words of encouragement for you.
“I would tell them that it would probably be the best decision they ever made in their life. It’s easy. It’s simple. You have a ton of support through the hospital,” she said.
“There is no reason in the world, if you’re a healthy person, to not consider donating your kidney. Your life will not change one bit, but somebody else’s life will change 200 percent.”
My wife, Vivian Fried, still needs a kidney donor urgently. She is staying strong and upbeat! Please help!! For information on kidney donation, email R1125@renewal.org
Click here to listen to the inspiring conversation with living kidney donor Vickie O’Neill-Haber.