Navy veteran donating kidney to stranger
By ELAINE BLAISDELL | Cumberland Times News | Published: February 21, 2019
CUMBERLAND, Md. (Tribune News Service) — A Navy veteran is giving the gift of life with the donation of a kidney to a complete stranger.
Dave Norris is donating his right kidney to Cumberland resident Mike Thomas, 36. The transplant is scheduled to take place Thursday.
Thomas was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic disorder that causes fluid-filled cysts to grow in the kidneys, at age 15. About five years ago, his kidney began to fail and, in 2015, he was placed on the national transplant list.
Norris said he saw a Facebook post explaining Thomas’ story and seeking a donor.
“His story touched me and I decided to get tested,” Norris said. “It felt like the right thing to do — God led me to it.”
Thomas said he was “blessed” to meet Norris.
“His kidney donation is saving my life,” Thomas said. “Words cannot express my appreciation. I thank God every day for this miracle.”
Norris found out he was a match Jan. 18.
“I was excited when I found out I was a match and I messaged his sister and asked if she wanted to be in on the call when I told Mike,” Norris said. “She was in tears and Mike was speechless. What do you say to someone who is giving you a kidney so you don’t have to suffer anymore?”
Norris’ wife and Thomas’ sister, Jennifer Robertson, are acquaintances.
“I was shocked that someone locally was a match. I was touched that he was willing to go through this,” Robertson said. “I’m in awe that someone would be so selfless to give another person life. We had no words but to say ‘thank you.’”
“It’s extremely rare that I’m a match, they told me I would have an easier time winning the lottery,” Norris said.
On Feb. 11, the two men met for the first time and traveled to Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington for medical appointments.
Thomas is a respiratory therapist in the newborn intensive care unit at Frederick Memorial Hospital. He commutes to work every day and once he returns home, spends eight hours on home dialysis.
“He’s not in the greatest shape, but he gets up every day, goes to work and does what he has to do,” Robertson said.
A GoFundMe campaign for Thomas has raised $125 of a $3,000 goal. Norris won’t incur any medical costs but will have travel expenses and will have to be on short-term disability from his job at Lowe’s.
“After this, I definitely plan on keeping in touch. After all, we are basically family. We will share the same DNA,” Norris said.
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