Woman gets donor kidney after husband’s efforts to find one went viral

Posted at 12:05 PM, Sep 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-19 12:05:00-04

From AnneClaire Stapleton


(CNN) — A South Carolina woman whose husband tried to find a donor kidney for her for nearly a year by wearing a sandwich board on the streets of their city has gotten one — and it’s working “A-OK,” her husband told CNN.

Jimmy Sue Swilling’s donor, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, had one request, though, before the transfer. She wanted the surgery to take place on September 11, to honor the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for their country.

The donor’s wish was granted.

Larry Swilling, Jimmy Sue’s husband, said the woman, who they only met the day before the surgery, was up and walking hours after the procedure last week.

“It’s pretty hard for someone who don’t know you to do something like that. She’s a hero,” Swilling said of the donor. “Being in the service for 21 years, she is a true American and she’s what America is built on, heart and soul.”

The donor heard about the couple from news reports about Swilling’s efforts to find someone willing to give up one of their kidneys.

“NEED KIDNEY 4 WIFE” said the sign he wore on a sandwich board over his shoulders as he walked the streets of Anderson, South Carolina. The same message was plastered on his pickup truck.

Jimmy Sue Swilling was born with only one kidney, and late this summer, it was failing. Her husband wasn’t a match.

When Larry’s campaign to find her a donor was picked up by local and national media, dozens of people got tested to see if their kidney was suitable for Jimmy Sue.

The eventual donor contacted the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where the surgery was performed last Wednesday.

Jimmy Sue Swilling will leave the hospital Friday, her husband said, although they’ll have to go to Charleston every month for the next four months to make sure the kidney is working properly.

Right now, Larry Swilling said, doctors report “everything is working A-OK, 200 percent!”

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