A Delaware woman who has needed a kidney transplant for almost two years now has her father's kidney after he recently died in a car accident.
Stacey Knox, 34, has been a Type 1 diabetic since age 7, and her kidneys began failing two years ago, her husband, Francis Knox, told ABC News today. Her dad, Anthony Jenkins, was prevented from donating his kidney because of his medical history that put him at higher risk for complications, Knox said.
But when Jenkins, 60, accidentally stepped into the path of a car and died in Bear, Delaware, Friday, Knox received the kidney that her father wanted her to have: his.
"We went over to the hospital, where he didn't make it, and someone from the Gift of Life came over to Stacey and told her she was on the transplant list and that her father was an organ donor, so they could be a match," Francis Knox said. "Though he was brain dead, they kept his organs alive to do tests, and everything matched."
This past Sunday, the Lewes, Delaware, woman traveled to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and went into the operation room early Monday morning, her husband said. He added that the transplant was successful, and she's recovering and being monitored.
"The fact that her dad is gone is very tragic, but in the end, I know her dad is happy because he wanted to save her life," Knox said. "He told me it made him so upset for her to be as sick as she was. Right now, we're going through a grieving period and a celebration at the same time, so we're going through very mixed feelings."
Knox also said his wife was an "incredibly generous person with a heart of gold" who rightly deserved the new kidney.
"We've had three people that have actually lived with us in our home that had serious illnesses and who Stacey took care of until they died," he said. "She's just that kind of person. She loves to help other people and she's such a strong person. She would give the clothes off her back for someone else."
He added that this was in spite of her own health complications from her diabetes, such as anemia.
"Her anemia made her so weak and so cold that she would be freezing when it was 89 degrees out," he said, adding that she even suffered third-degree burns from having to use a hair dryer to try and keep warm.
Dr. Peter Abt, the surgeon who performed Stacey Knox's transplant, told ABC News today that she should be getting better soon and that she will likely be able to go home this weekend. He added that she would have to come in one to two times a week for the next three to four weeks for checkups.
"It's certainly a bittersweet story, but I think this is one of those opportunities where a parent gets to make a lasting and final gift to their child," Abt said. "Any parent would want to be able to provide for their children in such a way."
Stacey Knox's husband added that she's excited to come back home to the three dogs that she loves so much.
Her dad's other kidney, liver and skin have been donated to other patients in need, and his heart has been donated to research, he said.