Co-worker’s best-ever Christmas gift: A kidney

(KOIN)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — For eight years Maggie Duron and Carol Phillips have worked together helping others with their health needs. Now, health issues have taken a more personal turn.

In just a few weeks, Maggie will give one of her kidneys to Carol.

“I knew she did dialysis but she didn’t really talk about it much at work,” Maggie told KOIN 6 News. “She didn’t want to bother people, always working, and didn’t want to affect other people, like, ‘Oh I can’t do this because I’m sick.’ She always wanted to pull her weight.”

Carol, who is 29, was diagnosed with lupus at 14. Three years later her kidneys began to fail, and when she was 23 she began dialysis. She said her kidney function right now is about 3%.

“I have systemic lupus. It’s an immune deficiency where my body attacks itself and eventually it attacked my kidneys,” she said.

She’s been trying to get on the cadaver list for a kidney transplant for about 6 years. Health issues kept her from getting on the list until June 2015, she said.

Once she got on the list, her hopes for a match were high.

“They told me to have my bags packed because I was so young and had been on dialysis for so long I was at the top of the list. But I never got a call,” Carol said. “I think they just didn’t have a match for me.”

Over the years, Maggie and Carol became friends. Once, Carol’s mom and sister were on vacation at the same time, and Carol needed backup help with her home dialysis.

“I’m like, ‘I can draw blood.’ How hard can it be?” Maggie said. “I’d go and help her out with dialysis.”

Maggie soon realized Carol’s dialysis took as much as 20 hours a week — “That’s a part-time job,” Maggie said.

When Carol got on the donor list, Maggie and other co-workers had their hopes up, too. When it didn’t happen, Maggie and the others looked into becoming a living donor.

Maggie passed one level to being a living donor, then another and another. “We were, like, ‘Oh, maybe this might actually work.’”

Ten months later, it’s all set. Maggie will donate a kidney to Carol on December 20.

Maggie, whose own son is 6 months older than Carol, said Carol “almost seems like one of my kids to me, you know.”

She said she’s at the right spot in her life for this.

“I’m healthy enough, my kids are all grown and I’m just in the right place at the right time, at the right spot in my life where I’m able to do this,” Maggie said. “And it happens to be the chemistry is a match, so it’s, like, why wouldn’t you?”

For Carol, this is literally a new lease on life. She’s recently engaged and this kidney will allow her to do things she hasn’t been able to do in a long time.

“I have no words for that. It’s indescribable,” Carol said. “I’ll never be able to fully thank her for all this.”

But they will share another memory: Carol just asked Maggie to be Maid of Honor at her wedding.

Carol Phillips said she’s ready to start living again, something she’ll be able to do thanks to the best Christmas present ever, from her co-worker Maggie Duron.

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