GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Four years ago, Lisa Miller played a game on Facebook that started a life-changing chain of events.
While playing Farm Town, Miller met the mother of a young woman in Idaho, who was being treated for renal failure as a result of spina bifida.
The woman told Miller all about her daughter’s ailing health and how she desperately needed a kidney transplant.
Miller made contact with the woman’s daughter and the two became friends on the social networking site. Their friendship extended into real life with long distance phone calls and Miller’s exhaustive attempts to find the young woman a kidney donor.
The young woman, who asked only to be called Tiffany for privacy reasons, spent several days a week for a number of years having dialysis treatments. She also has a young son.
Finding a kidney for the young woman wouldn’t be as easy as finding a willing donor. The person would also need to be a perfect match for Tiffany’s blood type, otherwise her body would reject the new kidney. The donor would also need to be the picture of health both physically and mentally.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, an average of 13 people die every day waiting for a kidney transplant. There are 93,000 Americans on the national waiting list for kidney donations.
After three years of looking for a donor, the perfect match was closer than Lisa Miller ever thought.
Miller’s husband, Chris Miller, came home one night and found his wife talking with Tiffany on the phone.
“She just asked me point blank if I would get tested, and I didn’t really have to think about it at all ... the minute she asked me about it I said ‘Absolutely.’ I just knew it was the right thing to do. I mean, she certainly needed it,” Chris said.
Chris was 41 years old when he went to the American Red Cross in Gainesville to take a blood test to see if his kidney would be a match. His blood signaled the first of many matches, O positive for her A positive.
His physical and mental evaluations confirmed he would be able to handle the operation.
On Jan. 8, he plans to give one of his kidneys to the young mother.
Chris said he’s eager for the surgery because of the good it will do in the Tiffany’s life.
“Quite frankly, it’s important to me. It’s important to Lisa. It’s an amazing journey.
I’m 100 percent ready. I’m not nervous at all,” Chris said.
The healing process will be lengthy for both parties.
Chris and Lisa Miller plan to stay in Spokane, Wash., where the transplant operation will be performed, for at least two weeks after the surgery. Chris will have to take a few more weeks off from his job at Home Depot. There is also a risk for depression after the operation.
Tiffany will start to feel better soon after the surgery but will have to isolate herself from other people to avoid possible infections.
While most people would feel they’ve given more than enough by providing a near stranger with an organ, it isn’t exactly enough for the Millers.
They’re also holding a fundraiser to help with the woman’s aftercare expenses and to provide Tiffany and her son a vacation, something they haven’t had in years with Tiffany undergoing dialysis.
“There are a lot of things that this young girl needs. Yes, she’s getting my husband’s kidney. A lot of people say ‘Why are you doing this? You’re already giving her a kidney.’ Well, we want to make sure this kidney survives. We aren’t giving her this kidney to last today, we’re giving it to her to last a lifetime,” Lisa said.