The day taxi driver Carol Hambright picked up Keri Evans for her first dialysis appointment, neither woman imagined they'd be part of two life-saving kidney operations.
Two years and 156 dialysis trips later, Evans, 52, of Midland Texas, still can hardly believe that Hambright volunteered to donate her kidney.
"A lot of people think that Carol and I have been childhood friends but I've only known her for two and a half years and for her to step forward and offer her kidney was… amazing," said Evans.
Evans said she wasn't told very much about her kidney donation options at her doctor's office after her kidneys began to fail due to complications from her type 1 diabetes. She even had to ask whether she was signed up for a kidney on the 80,000 people long national waiting list.
"I kept asking them, 'am I on a list or anything?' and they said 'yeah, yeah,' and I said we'll no one's talked to me about it," said Evans. "So on my own I started researching it."
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Once Evans started asking about donation lists, a specialist suggested she could go to Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, for review.
Evans said they told her they could help her if she had a living donor, but neither her elderly parents nor her 22-year-old son (himself at risk for developing diabetes) were good candidates.
Evans had already suffered neuropathy from diabetes from the waist down that left her in a wheelchair. She has neuropathy in her hands that left them numb, and suffered retinopathy while on dialysis.
It wasn't until Evans exclaimed "I give up, don't pick me up for dialysis tomorrow," when she returned from San Antonio with the news that she had gotten a living organ donor. Suddenly the idea of donating a kidney occurred to Hambright.
It turns out Hambright drives nearly 30 dialysis patients in her work.
"I talk to them all the same. But Keri's different because she was going to give up," said Hambright. "I said you can't give up. I'll give you mine. I got two."
Hambright, who isn't even an organ donor on her driver's license, surprised herself.
"I never even thought about before," she said.
Hambright's blood type did not match Evans but both women are now on a living kidney donor exchange list at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio. Experts say the legality of such organ exchange programs was in question until Congress approved them in 2007.
"Now you have transplant centers that are supporting these paired donations, but also these chain donations," said Joel Newman, spokesman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the national waiting lists for diseased organ donations in the United States.