Maria Boyle of Missouri was waiting on the donor list for two years before she got a call that a kidney was available. She was told to rush to the hospital for surgery, but she needed to call Jeremy Brown first.
Brown had agreed to donate one of his kidneys to Boyle, and was only a few weeks away from the operation. But Boyle wanted to let him know that she wouldn’t be needing his kidney any longer.
“If you’re on the list, and I’ve been on the list two years, you don’t give up a kidney. You just can’t,” Boyle said to FOX2NOW St. Louis.
The Missouri father congratulated Boyle on reaching the top of the donor list, but when she asked him what he planned on doing, Brown’s response surprised her.
Brown told her that he would still go through with the operation, and donate one of his kidneys to someone else in her honor.
“I’m a firm believer in when you say you’re going to do something, you do it,” Brown said to FOX2NOW St. Louis.
Boyle and Brown first met in January 2018, while Boyle was actively searching for a kidney donor. She suffers from Alport syndrome, a “genetic condition characterized by kidney disease, hearing loss, and eye abnormalities” that affects approximately 1 in 50,000 newborns, according to the Genetics Home Reference.
Boyle had already undergone a kidney replacement procedure in the early 2000s, but found herself back on the waiting list only 12 years later.
Exhausted by the traditional channels of donation, Boyle displayed a sticker on her car that said “share your spare.” The sticker generated a minor buzz, and when Brown heard her story, he felt called to assist if he could.
“It would be so life changing for me and I have all these kids that I love,” Boyle said to FOX2NOW St. Louis in January.
“I said to myself I just want my daughter to get through high school and she did and she’s in college now and I have two more kids.”
The more Brown spoke to Boyle, the more he was convinced he wanted to donate and help someone in need. That desire didn’t change when Boyle no longer needed his assistance.
After the operation
Brown’s mind raced the day of his operation, but not out of fear or regret of his decision. Rather, he was thinking about the recipient of his kidney– a stranger he would likely never meet.
“I was worried about my kids, but I was more thinking about the recipient. I wonder what was going through their mind,” he said.
Boyle said her life has improved drastically since the operation, but the transplant was bittersweet. She realized the transplant came at a cost, and is thankful for the person who planned to give so generously once they passed away.
“He or she lost their life and was nice enough to think about somebody that was alive in their death … they thought ahead,” Brown said.