For more than 11 years, Lisa White, 47, and Chris Jernigan worked together at a foster-care agency. Each year White grew sicker from polycystic kidney disease, a potentially deadly genetic disease where cysts form on the kidneys.
In March when doctors told her she would need a transplant, Jernigan, her boss and good friend, came to her aid. He volunteered to donate his kidney because he said he felt it was the right thing to do.
"I was shocked at first a little," White told "Good Morning America" today, "but I'm not surprised because Chris has really been a super boss over the last 11½ years."
Because the disease was genetic, most of White's family could not donate. Her aunt and uncle died from it. After living with a transplant for 20 years, White's mother died from complications. Even her brother was affected. He had just begun dialysis for the disease.
Three weeks after the transplant, White and Jernigan appeared on "GMA" to discuss their story.
It wasn't an easy ride for Jernigan. The surgery lasted about seven hours. Afterward, he experienced complications. He had low hemoglobin levels in his blood because of a ruptured blood vessel and spent three days in the hospital.
Doctors advised him to take it easy in the next few weeks.
White will begin working part time today.
Jernigan, still recovering at home, said that he felt good and that he was getting better daily.
He said knowing White for such a long time and knowing her life would get worse were his motivating factors for donating the organ.
"You could see the disease taking more and more of a toll on her and her body, especially over the last two years," Jernigan said. "Every morning she would come in. She'd had a rough morning, sick, struggling. She'd have to go home early some days. Some days call in and not make it at all. It's been really tough to watch somebody you care about and know they were in so much pain and sickness."
White said she expected the transplant to be more difficult. She still goes for checkups because there is still a chance that she will reject the kidney, but doctors say everything is working well.
"I care very much about every employee and want to do everything I can to make it a better workplace and make their lives better," Jernigan said. "This was just one more thing that I was able to do to help out a good friend and employee."
Jernigan joked that giving White a kidney equaled monetary compensation.
"We're a not-for-profit agency," Jernigan said. "We don't have a lot of money and so I couldn't give her a pay raise and had to give something."
White said she hoped their story would serve as an inspiration to others and get them to think about organ donation.
"I just hope that there's more people who will see this and come forward and become donors because it's a wonderful thing that he has done for me," White said.