Woman donates kidney to friend she met while serving in the Navy

Posted at 11:13 AM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 11:13:41-04

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you ask them how they met, they have slightly different stories.

Zainora Polk and Stanita Burton were stationed together in the Navy and shared the same office. One day in particular started a friendship that they didn't know would take them so far.

"They called me PS1. That was my job. And she said, 'PS1. Can you do me a favor?' And I was like, 'When we start doing favors for each other? What do you want?' And she leaned over my desk and she was like, 'Can you drive me to the hospital?' I was like, 'Holy crap," Burton said.

Polk was in labor just moments away from giving birth to her son. Being a single mom, Burton knew she couldn't leave her all alone. She stayed by Polk's side and helped her deliver her son.

It was that day that started a bond that they now call a sisterhood. Through texts, phone calls and visits the two eventually grew even closer. Close enough that they now share the same hospital floor.

"I did an exam and they saw a tumor on my left kidney, so immediately they had to remove it. It was the size of a football," Polk told WREG. Unfortunately, her health problems didn't stop there. Her second kidney's function was decreasing and was low enough that she had to have it removed too.

She was then put on a donor list and started dialysis. Several people were tested for a potential kidney, but there was no match.

So one day Burton said, "I got two. You can have one of mine." She talked to her family before making a decision. She soon was tested and found out she was a perfect match.

The two underwent surgery and are closer than ever.

"I did have a lot of people who were negative about it and were like, 'Well, what if your kids need a kidney or somebody in your family needs a kidney?' And my response was, 'What if you needed a kidney right now?'" Burton said.

Their story isn't typical. But it's a story they know many need to hear. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 10 percent of people worldwide are affected by kidney disease.