For the past 14 years, Steve Winfree has suffered from chronic kidney disease, which has led to arthritis, an amputation, gout, and multiple surgeries. One way he takes his mind off the disease is through collecting baseball cards. Opening up each pack and seeing who is inside has acted as a sort of stress relief for Steve and his wife, Heather, during the ups and downs his family has faced over the past decade and a half. So, when he learned a kidney donor had been found, it only seemed right that he find out through a deck of baseball cards.
Prior to the reveal, Heather underwent tests to see if she was a match; she wanted to become a living donor and donate a kidney. She wrote in a blog she started May 2017 that even though there was just a small chance she would be a match for her husband, “he is my perfect match in life so why would I not match him for this?”
Even before Heather got the call, she started to plan how she would tell to Steve he was getting a new kidney.
On July 6, Heather received a call while she was at work from a transplant donor coordinator. The call was to deliver the good news—she was a match!
“I started bawling,” she wrote on her blog. “I felt so overwhelmed–I have been given the opportunity to save my husband’s life.”
Now she just had to tell her husband. And she planned to do it in the best possible way, by using a pack of baseball cards.
Heather ordered a custom baseball card, which read, in part, “Heather will be pitching a new kidney to him.”
After receiving the call, Heather called Topps, the company where she ordered the custom card from, and asked if they could rush her order. She had very important news to share with someone and it involved the card. With the help of a friendly customer service agent, the order was overnighted and the Topps customer service agent sent Heather a proof of the card so she could tell her husband immediately.
Heather gave a pack of cards to her husband and started filming him. Steve became a little suspicious.
“She kept saying ‘you have a special insert there,'” Steve told MLB.com.
As Steve flipped through the cards, stopping to examine each one, he came across one that was different from the others. It wasn’t a rookie card, nor was it that of a baseball legend. Instead it was a card that couldn’t be valued. On the front of the special insert card was a picture of Steve, and on the back was a baseball pun-filled note announcing that Heather was a donor match to Steve.
Needless to say, Steve was overwhelmed with emotion.
While Heather still needs further tests in order to determine if she is in top health to become a living donor, if the tests come back with positive results, the couple will undergo surgery at the end of July.
The Winfrees hope that now that the video of Steve’s emotional reaction has gone viral that it will make people more aware of organ donation. According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services each year there are about 6,000 living donations.
Until Steve undergoes the surgery, this card is the most priceless gift he’s ever received.
— Steve and Heather Winfree (@TheWinfrees) July 8, 2017