When all hope seems lost, you can always count on family.
Sam Senseney, a 63-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, was sick and in desperate need of a kidney—but he would have to wait. He was on the Georgia kidney transplant list, but with 2,000 patients ahead of him, he went six years without a donor.
His friends and family all tested to see if they could be potential donors, but none were a match. Senseney has survived thanks to four-hour dialysis sessions three days a week, but his quality of life has suffered.
“It pretty much wipes me out,” Senseney told CBS46 about the treatment regimen.
“It has just really taken a toll on me.”
But through the whole ordeal, Senseney had one major advocate at his side:
His teenage granddaughter, Maddie Sabourin.
Sabourin, now a senior at Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, has always been close with her grandpa, and has comforted him with frequent visits throughout his illness.
“Watching papa just be on the transplant list for the past six years has been super hard,” Sabourin said.
Sabourin has always been too young to donate, but throughout Senseney’s illness she has found other ways to help, trying to spread awareness and seek a donor for her grandpa.
As a contestant in the Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen Pageant, she used her platform to encourage organ donation, raising $7,500 for the American Kidney Fund.
Despite her charitable success, her grandfather continued to wait for a donor.
But recently, Sabourin visited Senseney for one of her regular visits—but this time was different.
This time, she had a surprise.
She handed her grandpa a handmade card that said “It’s Moving Day!”
Senseney read the card … and realized what it meant.
Sabourin was a match, and she was going to donate her kidney!
He was stunned by the reveal. “I just sat there and looked at it, and was like there’s no way,” Senseney recalled.
As soon as Sabourin turned 18, she got tested to see if she could donate a kidney to her grandpa.
She was, although doctors initially told her no, thinking she might be too young. However, she persisted, convincing the doctors to let her donate.
“This wasn’t something that I was just going to let go,” Sabourin told CBS. “When I knew that I was a match, I knew that this was in God’s plan for me.”
“It’s just amazing to know that after all my hard work and advocating, that I’m going to be the one.”
The teen and her grandpa are hoping to set a date for the transplant next month. For Senseney, receiving a donation from his granddaughter is a perfect, unexpected ending to his long ordeal.
“For as long as I’ve been looking for a kidney, and then she comes along and just has one, and everything is a match, and everything is perfect,” he told CBS.
“It just pretty much blew me away.”
It’s a perfect ending for Sabourin, too. While she will have to miss three weeks of high school, it’s a sacrifice she’s gladly willing to make.
“Papa is going to get all of his energy back, and he’s going to live the life he did six years ago,” she said.