I want to tell you a story. A story of one woman’s need and another woman’s selfless act to meet that need.
Phyllis grew up in rural Mississippi. Her father was a coach, teacher, and eventually sheriff. Her mother worked for the Board of Education. She has a sister and a brother. She married a man who would become a urologist. She worked with deaf children. They settled down in the Mississippi Delta and raised three boys.
Phyllis’ father was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, a disease passed from parent to child in which cyst form on your cyst eventually causing them to cease to function. There is no cure. The only treatment is dialysis or transplant. He knowingly suffered with the disease for about 12 years. He was on dialysis the entire time.
Phyllis and her sister both have the disease. Her sister had a transplant many years ago. Phyllis has not needed one…until now.
Recently, however, her kidneys have weakened. The doctors have told her she will have to begin dialysis soon and she will need a new kidney. Her sister, of course, cannot be a donor. Neither can her sister’s children, since they could develop the disease. Her brother is not a candidate. Her three adult sons cannot be donors because they are not old enough and they could develop the disease later in life. Hope is dying that she will find a kidney without having to go on the donor list.
Her brother’s children are her best option.
However, before they can be tested, another steps in.
Teresa grew up in the same small town as Phyllis, though they went to separate schools and did not really know one another growing up. Teresa met and married at a young man from her home town. She became a teacher. Her husband a social worker and then rural letter carrier. They eventually settled in their hometown and raised four children.
Teresa, knowing Phyllis’ situation, calls the hospital to begin the donor process. She makes it through the initial interview. There is a spark of hope. Then she finds out she is a blood and tissue match. Hope fans from spark to flame. Teresa travels to Birmingham for a day of testing and questioning.
A few days pass. The test results come in. Teresa is the perfect match. Hope becomes an all-consuming fire.
Teresa is finally able to tell Phyllis at Christmas that she is her donor. Phyllis is dumb-founded. She had never considered Teresa. After all, who would have thought she would have been a perfect match?
Teresa will selflessly and with all the love she has give her kidney to Phyllis Friday, February 3, a day that forever will bond these two women.
Phyllis is my father’s sister. Teresa is my mother.