Strangers Become Extended Family Through The Gift of A Kidney Donation
Lifestyle| | By Robin Milling
On a snowy morning in February 2016 at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, a stranger gave the gift of life to a single mother by donating her kidney after answering her personal plea months earlier on Facebook. Now the two women are bonded for life, forming an extended family.
Kara Yimoyines from Winchester was out of options when she decided to ask the social media community for help:
Yimoyines had met with several local Winchester anonymous donors and her curiosity got the best of her, wanting to know why they would help a total stranger.
“I really wanted to get inside the brain of someone who would do it because it’s awful to have to ask for a kidney,” she told Your Daily Dish. “I remember the first time I found out I was going to have to ask somebody – even in my family and friends network – and I sobbed in my surgeon’s office. He did a wonderful job of explaining to me why it’s ok to ask. I remember asking them and they said things like, ‘I give blood regularly and this just felt like an extension of that.’ I thought that was a big jump!”
Out of the many concerned possible donors, Nicole Baltzer felt a kindred connection to Yimoyines after reading her post. “She’s from the Midwest. I’m from the Midwest. We both like sports. I certainly never set out to be a living donor as part of my life plan. I remember reading it and feeling so bad. This is so unfair. That’s when it really hit me. I can do something about this. Maybe I’m a match, ” she told WBZ-TV.
Remarkably the two women met moments before surgery. Yimoyines told Your Daily Dish, “It was amazing and an incredible rush of emotions. I started to cry. But we were also under pretty heavy drugs! They gave me a huge dose of steroids but we were also under some heavy duty pain killers. Actually, we weren’t able to talk for long; that first meeting was about five minutes where she hobbled into my room with her husband Jim. She came over to my bedside and we just gave each other a huge hug. I was able to hand her a card that I had just written. To this day I really don’t know what it said because as I said I was under heavy sedation. But I asked her, ‘can you spell your name for me?’ because I didn’t know her until that moment – post surgery.”
They got to know each other over the next couple of days taking their mandatory walks along the surgery ward. The two women soon discovered they were from the same town – living nearly a mile away from one another. They have since welcomed each other’s families. “We had them over for Easter and they came over recently for brunch. My family really wants to get to know them. We got to meet her mother who is here taking care of her from Michigan. We’ve kind of blended the families,” Yimoyines said. “Her daughter is just a year younger than my daughter and they get along really well. It’s wonderful to stay in touch with this person who’s given me such a wonderful gift. And I know of other donor matches where they give their kidney and they never see each other again. I think because we’re both from Winchester and we’re both moms and we have so much in common – I’m a web developer and she’s a web designer.”
That irony has not escaped them as to the possibility of bonding in business and in friendship. “She’s so easy to be friends with. She’s just such a lovely person. People want to know about how someone who is so altruistic and who would do this. Nicole and Jim are exactly as kind and wonderful as you would imagine someone who could do this would be. It’s been kind of a wonderful journey. I think she’s a true hero that she was willing to do something for someone she didn’t know at all,” Yimoyines said.
Yimoyines also sees this journey as a new lease on life, as her condition left her too exhausted to spend quality time with her children. The weight of that constant worry that she couldn’t be there for her kids has been lifted. Now she’s excited to travel with them to see their grandparents. “Just to live as healthy and happy a life as I can with my children. I can now take them on adventures that weren’t possible before,” she said.
“It opens a lot of doors for me. Nicole gave me a little gift for my birthday — a bucket list. One of my first items that I wrote is I want to take the kids to Denver to see my mom and my stepdad. I want to take them to California where I grew up. I’d like to take them down to Florida to see my dad. I want to be more involved in their lives and their sports events. I want to go running with my older son. My daughter does gymnastics and they have an away event so now I can go. There are so many things but a lot of them is just to live a normal life.”