DETROIT - Kidney disease is a reality that 47-year-old Nancy Noble has lived with for 20 years.
"I had heard about dialysis, but I was fine, it was never a big thing to me," she told Local 4's Lauren Podell.
Her condition had always been managed by medication, and she led a very healthy life.
"My doctor always said I was his healthiest kidney patient," she said.
That's why news of a set-back this past September was a shock.
"My doctor said my creatinine levels went up, so I asked what are we going to do about that, thinking I'll just be on new medication, " Noble said. "His response was that he put me on the transplant list. That was hard."
Noble was in need of a kidney.
Her husband, brother, Jim, cousin and sister-in-law were all tested. They weren't a match.
But a match did happen -- and from an unlikely donor: Michelle Rogers.
Rogers isn't technically family, she's dating Nobel's brother.
"I was told I was a one-in-six match. How could I say no," Rogers said. "I wasn't doing this for Jim, I was doing this for Nancy."
Both women have suffered extreme loss in their lives.
Noble lost her brother to a brain disease at the age of 15, her sister died of breast cancer, her mother is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and her father died of kidney disease himself.
As for Rogers, she lost her sister to suicide and her husband to colon cancer. Those tragedies were the reason she jumped on the chance to give Noble a fresh start, blood related or not.
"I felt compelled to do it," Rogers said. "I know I can't control her health, but this is the right step, a step I could do, it was something I had to do."
Surgery was successful. Both underwent a three-hour long procedure and came out of their operations changed women.
"It was Nancy's sister Lauren who said, 'Michelle, you'll always be a part of our family because of a part of you is inside Nancy,'" said Rogers.
Nobel describes Rogers as her "soul sister."
Rogers, her boyfriend Jim, Noble and her husband, documented their transplant journey through this blog to encourage donation.
You can read their stories at kidney4u.wordpress.com.
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