Stories of Hope

See how organ, eye and tissue donation has healed lives.

LeKeeshia & Billy, living kidney donor and recipient

Billy was an active father and hard worker who enjoyed being outdoors, riding his motorcycle and spending time with his family. When his 20-year struggle with diabetes left his kidney function at just 10 percent, Billy became so sick that he believed he would not live to see his 40th birthday. A kidney transplant was Billy’s only hope, and his girlfriend, LeKeeshia, was ready to help. Remarkably, LeKeeshia was a match for Billy. Her decision to donate made it possible for Billy to have a second chance at life, and LeKeeshia is back to helping others as a nurse’s assistant and a dedicated volunteer in her community.

Living Donation - LeKeeshia and Billy (After)Living Donation - LeKeeshia and Billy (Before)LeKeeshia’s Living Kidney Donation Gives Billy the Healthy Life He Never Thought He Would Have

Billy loved being outdoors and spending time with his close-knit family. A father of two, Billy could often be found playing ball with his kids, going fishing or riding his motorcycle. He was dedicated to his job in industrial maintenance, traveling two hours each day to and from work. Billy had what most would consider a very good life, but his struggle with diabetes since the age of 18 was taking a toll. He had been forced to undergo multiple eye surgeries over the years; and, by the time Billy was 39, his kidney function had declined to just 10 percent, leaving him both physically and emotionally exhausted.

Diabetes took over Billy’s world. He began in-home dialysis, enduring eight-hour treatments every night, followed by extensive health checks of his weight, blood pressure and blood sugar every morning before setting off for a long day at work. When he wasn’t working, Billy had to make time to attend intensive training sessions for his dialysis machine and insulin pump, as well as for ongoing visits to a nutritionist. In spite of all of his efforts, Billy wasn’t getting any better. His vision was failing and his body was constantly cramping, leading him to believe that he wouldn’t live to see his 40th birthday. A kidney transplant was Billy’s only hope for survival, and his girlfriend, LeKeeshia, was ready to help.

LeKeeshia, a nurse’s assistant, loving aunt and active community volunteer with a perennially positive outlook, had wanted to be a living donor when her grandmother needed a kidney 14 years earlier. Her grandmother had turned down LeKeeshia’s generous offer, however, because she believed that LeKeeshia would need to give it to someone else one day. When Billy learned that he required a transplant, LeKeeshia didn’t hesitate to once again offer one of her kidneys. The doctors informed her it was highly unlikely that she and Billy would be a match, but LeKeeshia was not deterred. She felt so strongly about donating, in fact, that LeKeeshia had made up her mind to donate her kidney to someone else even if she couldn’t help Billy. Against incredible odds, they got the news that LeKeeshia was a match, and the surgery was a success.

Living donation made it possible for Billy to resume his life as a healed man. In addition to his return to good health, Billy’s new kidney has him viewing the world through a more positive lens. He listens to the birds singing in the morning, and he pauses to appreciate simple things, like sunshine. Billy is an active dad again, he is making plans to buy a new motorcycle, and his relationship with LeKeeshia is stronger than ever. LeKeeshia is back to doing what she loves, too, like volunteering with the Salvation Army and in her niece and nephew’s school. LeKeeshia is thankful to have a happy Billy back, and she is grateful every day that she had the opportunity to be a blessing in someone’s life.

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