DETROIT – A group of people met for the first time today after being a part of a kidney transplant program at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
The reunion took place at the hospital this morning and involved five people who were kidney donors and recipients.
Shannon Brink, 31, suffered from an auto-immune disease and needed a new kidney. Her husband posted to Facebook about Brink's situation and was contacted by Sarah Rae-Andreski, who didn't know Shannon Brink, but knew her husband.
"I knew that I wanted to do this. To me, it just made sense because I have two, I only need one and to give one away, sure," Andreski said.
Andreski found out she wasn't a match for Brink, but wanted to help someone else because she suffered from a chronic illness called endometriosis.
"I also knew what it meant to go through a surgery and wake up a few hours later and have a life back so I wanted to be able to give that gift," Andreski said.
She contacted the hospital and ended up donating her kidney to Lori, a woman she didn't know. Lori was not able to attend the reunion today.
"She [Lori] had a very rare combination of antibodies and blood type as did I and so we're very important matches because we're very rare but we're very hard to match," Andreski said.
Andreski is not sure she can give birth, but wanted to give the gift of life.
"Even though I may not be able to have biological children, this was a way to give life to someone else and be part of that miracle gift," she said.
However, Brink was still without a kidney, and Kara Dandar, another friend of Brink's husband, reached out to help and planned to donate her kidney to Brink.
"Why not save someone else's life?" Dandar said.
During that time, another woman, Emily King, 39, was living with diabetes and needed a kidney. Her mom's co-worker, Todd Ramsdell, 40, told King's mom he would donate his kidney to her. Ramsdell was not a match for King, but was a match for Brink.
Ramsdell ended up donating his kidney to Brink, who he had not met until today.
"I was very excited and nervous all at the same time not knowing what to expect and getting to see someone who has my kidney," Ramsdell said.
Brink, who lived with an auto-immune disease, said Ramsdell changed her life.
"He's my superhero. He saved my life. I will forever be grateful to him because I now have that chance at life that I didn't have before," Brink said.
She said she can now possibly give life to another human being after getting a new kidney.
"Now I have my personalilty back, my family has their daughter and a sister and my husband has his wife and now because of this kidney transplant, I have the chance to be a mom, which is a huge thig for me. I get life and I might be able to give life so it's amazing," Brink said.
Meanwhile, Dandar, who was a match for Brink and King, gave her kidney to King.
"It's pretty amazing to know that a gift I gave could help someone have a brand new life," Dandar said.
King is very grateful.
"It's incredible to have a face to a name for an unknown person that you're so grateful to," King said.
All of the kidney donors said their recovery time was very quick and they believe it's important for others to give what they can to help someone else.
"You're not only saving someone's life. You're saving the impact they have on their communities and friends," Dandar said.