With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, this is a time of year when friends and family unite and get to share all they are thankful for.
In this case, two people who had never met came together to save a life.
When Brittaney Aleman learned that Allison Davis was in dire need of a kidney donor, she came to her rescue and forged a precious new friendship in the process.
Allison said she and Brittaney met after Brittaney had already found out that she was a perfect match donor for her. With help from Daisy Scheske-Freeman and Liz Reiley-DuBose at the Chamber of Commerce, the girls set up a lunch date where they all could meet.
“This was four weeks before the surgery,” Allison said. “We decided that we didn't want to meet in a public place, so I had the lunch at home.”
Allison said she was diagnosed with kidney disease while in her early 20s, and was told that she had less than five years before her kidneys would fail. She made it seven years, got married and had a child.
“I have a disease called FSGS [Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis]. After my kidneys failed, I was placed on dialysis for six years and one day before I got my first transplant. It lasted eight years.”
According to Allison, her doctors were unsure what caused the transplanted kidney to fail. She was told in July 2016 that she would need to prepare for returning to dialysis or hopefully be transplanted again. A childhood friend immediately came forward to be tested.
“We went through several phases of testing together,” Allison said. “We felt that divine intervention was with us as we went through the testing process. After three rounds of testing, the transplant clinic team determined that she and I were not a close enough match to have a successful transplant that would be long lasting.”
Allison knew the likelihood of receiving a cadaver donor soon enough was a long shot.
Daisy had already volunteered to put together a social media campaign to find a new kidney, but Allison was hesitant.
“The idea of my personal medical needs blasted out to the world was very scary to me. Thank goodness she persisted. She is our local social media guru, so I knew if anyone could pull this off, it would be her.”
Allison said she eventually relented and gave Daisy the go-ahead to start the page and begin the search for a live donor.
“I could never have imagined the response that the page got. We lost count of how many times the page was shared and how many people it reached. Six months after the creation of the page, a perfect match donor had been found.
“Brittaney is a saint in my eyes,” Allison praised. “Her faith and obedience to God allowed her to give of herself to me.”
For Brittaney’s part, she learned of Allison's need for a kidney on January 4, and a friend of hers invited her to like a Facebook page (Allison Boothe Davis needs a kidney) and spread the word. As she read over the details, she couldn't determine why Allison needed a kidney, but knew that wasn't important. What was important was that she needed a kidney and that the word needed to be spread.
“As I shared the page, I just felt this tug to see if I was a match,” Brittaney said. “At first, I never thought I would match her. At this point, 432 people had liked the page in a little over 24 hours of it being published, surely someone else was already a match.”
A couple of weeks later Brittaney found out she could be a donor.
“I knew in my heart I was already invested in Allison, and I even hadn't met her yet.”
After that phone call, life moved on for Brittaney. She thought about Allison, prayed for her whenever she thought of her, and wondered if she ever found a kidney. On June 9, she was driving home from teaching swimming lessons and got a call from the transplant hospital. Allison's donor had fallen through and Brittaney’s number was up.
“I don't know if I have ever experienced pure joy, shock, and being scared all at the same time, but at that moment, I did,” she said. “I was grateful that her prayers were being answered and that God was using me to be his hands and feet. I was shocked that four months later, I was still relevant — I was scared that I would fail Allison. I did more blood draws, lots of testing — mentally and physically, and I prayed over each vial, each sample, and every scan.”
Twelve days from the initial phone call, Brittaney was approved to give Allison her kidney.
“Prior to the donation, the name Allison Davis rendered nothing to me. I wouldn't have been able to pick her out of a room if you held a million dollars in my face. Therefore, when I found out that it was policy to meet her, I decided not to do it until after I knew there was a 99 percent chance that I would be her kidney donor. I was afraid to meet her beforehand in case it didn't go through, leaving her in a state of limbo and wonder.”
Needless to say, the pair eventually met. They quickly became friends and spent a lot of time together.
“We soaked up every opportunity to get to know each other,” Brittaney said. “And I could afford to be uncomfortable for a few weeks so that Allison can be comfortable for the next 20 years.
“Allison is my hero. She embraces her disease and continues putting one step in front of the other when other people would've used it as a crutch. She never stopped being a mom, a wife, a daughter, the best Aunt Al, and a friend.”