GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)—A local teacher donated one of her kidneys to a student’s father, who she had never met. That donation not only changed his life, but the lives of the four children he adopted.
This story actually started years ago, when Goochland couple Jere and Steve Swinson adopted four kids. But within months of taking them home, they received terrible news.
An autoimmune disease re-emerged with a vengeance and Steve lost both of his kidneys.
“Going to dialysis three times a week for three to four hours a day and then not having much of a life,” he said.
For years, the family tried to hold things together, as the husband and father went in and out of the hospital.
“I felt guilty that [the children] had experienced so much loss and then they have to worry that they were going to experience another,” Jere said.
But one day, a surprise came from one of the very kids they adopted. Cheyene Swinson had a friend whose mother wanted to donate a kidney.
“I overheard a conversation between my daughter and his daughter,” said Crissi Flippen. “She said that he was very ill and had been on the list for a kidney for a long time. So, I just told her to have her mom call me.”
“At first I was thinking it’s a hoax, it’s really something like this could be true,” Steve said. “Somebody just walks up and say ‘Hey, I don’t know you, but I have an extra kidney, would you like it?'”
So in December, the woman who has “pay it forward” on her license plate did just that—gave up a kidney for a man she barely knew.
“I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for myself and for my family,” Steve said to Flippen. “It’s really appreciated and there’s no way that I can possibly repay that debt.”
“You should not have to repay that debt,” Flippen responded.
This is a debt this family will never forget.
“I’m really happy,” said daughter Ruby Swinson. “I know every family has their ups and downs, but we love him with all of our hearts.”
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond