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She’s just her type

Type O.

It’s the name [sic] of the Post Independent newsroom cat. By definition, when hyphenated, it’s short for typographical error, aka a spelling/grammatical mistake. It could be my pro wrestling name if I ever entered the ring.

It’s also the blood type that changed the lives of two women last week.



On Jan. 12, Type O connected an old Glenwood Springs friend of mine, Michelle, who now lives in California, to her new friend, Sue. The two came to know each other, quite well as of late, through their boyfriends, who have known each other since the late ‘80s. And a little something we all know and love called Facebook. Michelle had noticed that Sue’s boyfriend, Corey, posted a few times on Facebook that Sue was seeking a kidney.

She knew she had to act.



“The first one I saw was in January last year, and then in August he posted again that she was still on the waiting list and mentioned that she was Type O,” Michelle wrote, from her recovery bed. “I’m a blood donor and also registered for bone marrow, so I knew my blood type was right. We’re the hardest to match as recipients, but can donate to anyone.”

Michelle soon filled out the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center’s screening questionnaire. That started her down a path that eventually intersected for the two women who both happened to have the Type O classification of blood.

Then tests, tests and more tests, ensued.

“After two 24-hour urine collections, more than 100 little tubes of blood samples, and a chest X-ray, EKG and CT angiogram, I was declared young and healthy, and the doctors picked my right kidney as the lucky match,” wrote Michelle, in her crowd-funding campaign description, which has easily doubled its $1,000 goal. “I finally met my kidney buddy in December, and Sue is wonderful; I think my kidney will have a lovely new home.”

Last Thursday, both women underwent surgeries that saved Sue’s life and gave Michelle a whole new perspective on living. Michelle believes if she were in Sue’s position, she would do anything for someone to step up and help like she was able to and willing.

“What it really came down to was that she needed this thing I had in order to live,” Michelle said. “In the end, she had over 25 people who specifically stepped forward for her, but they were all incompatible tissue types or not healthy enough for the surgery. It turned out that Sue was tough to match and I was nearly a 100 percent match for her.”

Michelle describes the medical match in one word: Serendipity.

“She also lives only about a mile from me in Oakland. So weird,” she said. “The coolest part about living kidney donation, I think, is that you can have chains of donations kicked off by the right match. So, if I wasn’t a match for Sue, but was for Joe Blow, and he has a donor who was a match for Plain Jane and she had a donor who was a match for Sue, everyone would get a kidney.”

Michelle said in her research on living donations, she read that the record for a paired donation chain was somewhere around 60 or 70 kidneys, which blew her mind. In preparing for surgery, she set up the crowd-funding campaign to help as she and her boyfriend miss work for a few weeks, or possibly more. She also wanted to cover any expenses her parents, who have traveled from Southern California to be by her side during recovery, may incur. Since their surgeries, both Sue and Michelle have taken to Facebook and the crowd-funding page to thank those who have helped along their serendipitous journey with encouragement as well as donations.

“The outpouring of physical, emotional and financial help during this whole process has been nothing short of amazing,” wrote Michelle, just five days after the kidney donation and transplant surgeries. “You are all wonderful people, and feeling your love and hope for Sue and myself is beautiful. … I love you, even if I’ve never heard of you.”

In donating her right kidney to a once-stranger, Michelle now has an unbreakable bond with her new friend. And people she’s never even met who have come together in support of the kidney swap on social networking. Michelle says all the kind words and generosity, ranging from friends and family to complete strangers, have warmed both women’s hearts.

“They have reinforced my decision that this is the right thing to do,” she said.

And it all started with a matching blood type named O.

April E. Allford hopes people show Michelle and Sue their love by donating at https://www.youcaring.com/michelledunn-730307. April can be reached at aprilallford@gmail.com.


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