GRANITE CITY, IL – It is a miracle match 12 years in the making. Thursday morning (Sept. 6), two women will walk into Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center. Once just neighbors, they will soon be forever connected.
Neighbors Tina Greene, 58, and Amy Miller, 47, greeted Fox 2 while wearing matching pink tee shirts. The shirts say "Two lives intertwined by a miracle. Be a hero. Be an organ donor.'
About 13 years ago, Miller's family moved into their Granite City home. The following year, Greene and her boyfriend moved in directly across the street. According to both women, the people living in their neighborhood are like family and they look out for each other.
"If we wouldn't have bought this house here and moved in here, I wouldn't know her and this wouldn't be happening,' Greene said.
Last year, Greene became very ill. Doctors discovered her kidneys had failed. One kidney was not functioning at all, and the other was only functioning at three percent.
Greene started dialysis, and for the past year and a half, she has gone in three days a week.
"The longest three hours and fifteen minutes of my life," said Greene. "It's horrible."
Coincidentally, Miller had done her research and had already begun the process to become a kidney donor. She saw a post on social media about a local woman who needed a kidney transplant and wanted to help. That woman's condition worsened, and there wasn't enough time for Miller to help.
Miller saw the toll dialysis was taking on her friend. Then, Greene came home with devastating news. Doctors told Greene without a kidney transplant she would only have until Christmas.
"She told me that she needed a kidney or she wasn't going to make it," said Miller. "It didn't even cross my mind to say no."
Over several days, Miller underwent countless tests including blood tests, CT scans, and x-rays. As fate would have it, these two lives really were intertwined by a miracle.
"Not only are we the exact same blood type, but out of six genetic markers, two of them matched," said Miller explaining the rare coincidence increases the likelihood Greene's body will accept her new kidney.
Miller's doctors tell her since she is in optimum health with strong kidneys, she should live a full and healthy life with her remaining one. Should she ever run into complications of her own, her doctors have told her the hospital will put her at the top of the list to get a new kidney for herself.
The women are encouraging others to consider becoming living donors to give someone else a second chance at life.
After the transplant surgery Thursday morning, Miller will be in the hospital for two days. Greene will stay in the hospital a few days longer to ensure her body accepts her new kidney. The women will have six weeks of recovery, then they hope to plan a beach getaway together to celebrate life.
For more info about kidney transplants at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center: https://www.barnesjewish.org/Medical-Services/Transplant/Kidney-Transplant
If you are interested in becoming a living organ donor, call 314-362-5365 or sign up at https://www.organdonor.gov/.