KATY, Texas - Only on FOX 26, a Katy woman saved her friend’s life after deciding to donate one of her kidneys. The women are now hoping to raise awareness so that more people will become living organ donors.
Waiting to become an organ recipient can take years, and in the meantime, your health continues to deteriorate. Some people lose their lives while waiting on the organ donor list. Inyang Ekong, a teacher from Katy, immediately sprang into action when she heard her friend was in need, giving her the gift of life, and documenting the process along the way on camera.
Bridget Smalley was diagnosed 26 years ago with polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition that causes kidney function to deteriorate over time. She received a kidney a few years back, but got some bad news the beginning of this year.
“My first kidney transplant was a deceased donor, and it failed in January, and I was hospitalized for about a month in January.” says Smalley.
She tells us her friend, Inyang Ekong, called to see how she wasdoing. The two have been friends for seven years, and met while attending the same church. Ekong when she learned Smalley would need a new kidney she did not hesitate to go through extensive testing to give Smalley one of her own kidneys.
Ekong told FOX 26, “We were a match from beginning to end. We have the same blood type, our tissues matched, like it’s almost to the fact that it’s 100 percent. There was no room for error.”
The process happened quickly since it was a perfect match. Two weeks ago the women underwent the knife for the transplant. Ekong wanted to document everything on video, asking her sister, Umoh Cloud to help.
"In this day and age, there’s so much anger, there’s so much hate, there’s so much malice, there’s so much just meanness out there in the world, and to see what it looks like when people care for one another... I was more than excited to film it for her,” said Cloud.
Both women are still recovering, but are passing their post-op appointments with flying colors. Smalley tells FOX 26 for much this gift has meant to her.
“Her being a living donor really increases the lifetime for this kidney. You know, they have said there have been people 20, 25, 30 plus years when the donor is a living donor versus a deceased donor. So for me this has been an outstanding, outstanding blessing,” she said.
The women hope others will see their video on social media, and become inspired to provide a selfless act.
“You can do something now to make a difference, you don’t have to wait till later, and if anything it was just a humbling experience,” said Ekong.
If it were not for the kidney donation, Smalley would have waited 5-8 years before a kidney would have become available to her. The women thank Houston Methodist for the successful transplant, and recommend anyone interested in becoming a living donor, check out Houston Methodist transplant website to learn more information about the process.