Transplant Sisters

Major Donna Leedom and Angela Nesley are prepped for the transplant surgery.

Major Donna Leedom needed a kidney. Without a donor, her future was uncertain, to say the least. Problem was, Donna’s blood type is O-negative; making it much harder to find a match. She was placed on a nationwide list, hoping and praying for a miracle.

God sent a miracle, all right—just from an unexpected source.

Enter Angela Nesley, who also happens to have an O-negative blood type. Both ladies agree that what happened over the course of three years is nothing short of God’s incredible plan to answer prayer, even before prayers were lifted up on Donna’s behalf.

“I’m friends on Facebook with Lt. Colonel David Kelly, who along with his wife, Lt. Colonel Naomi Kelly, are very close friends with Donna,” Angela says. “I read his heartfelt post on Facebook on Donna’s behalf, begging anyone with O-negative blood type to consider donating a kidney to save her life.”

Angela says that as soon as she read about the blood type, she knew what she had to do.

“I hope that someone would do the same for me,” she adds.

Angela privately contacted Donna’s doctors and initial testing was begun—all without anyone’s knowledge except for Angela’s adult children and her mother.

Despite being the same blood type, the odds of a perfect match were very low.

“Ninety percent of O-negative people are ruled out,” Angela explains, “but tests showed that I fell into that 10% that would match with what Donna needed.”

So far, so good.

Another critical factor was concerning Angela. Three years ago, she had decided to have a gastric sleeve surgery—helping her to lose 100 pounds.

“God knew I needed to lose that weight in anticipation of this transplant—not because of anything to do with Donna, but because one kidney would not be able to support a five-foot, two-inch person weighing 250 pounds!”

Other stringent tests followed, and each time things looked positive. Each step only confirmed further for Angela that God’s hand was in all of this process.

“At the end of June, the doctors came into the examining room grinning from ear-to-ear,” Angela says. “They told me that both kidneys were ‘a match made in Heaven,’ and that either of them would work!”

Not wanting to get Donna’s hopes up, she was not informed for a few weeks thereafter. Angela kept reading posts on Facebook of people imploring others to pray for a donor. “I kept wanting to shout out—Don’t worry, God’s got this!” Angela recalls.

When Donna’s doctors were finally deliver the great news to her, Donna phoned Angela—but couldn’t even speak because of the tears. Angela was driving at the time, and had to pull over as she began crying tears of joy too.

“I couldn’t imagine how to thank Angela for this gift,” Donna says. “She asked me not to, and to just live well. That’s my intention!”

The operation went without a problem, and Donna’s prognosis is excellent.

Despite a nationwide search for the perfect kidney for Donna, the best-possible match came from Angela—who is also a Salvationist; formerly a member of a corps in Wichita, Kansas, where Major Donna once pastored; and most iRonically, at the time of the transplant process, living only a few miles apart!

“I attend the Alexandria (Virginia) Corps and Angela was going to the corps in nearby Fairfax,” Donna says with a healthy shine on her face. “And we were overwhelmed by the wave of prayer that covered us; people who knew us and those who only knew of the need. Even members of the medical team lifted us in prayer, and calling on their church members to join them on our behalf!”

Now that part of Angela is now a part of Donna, the two women consider themselves something like sisters. In keeping with Angela’s keen sense of humor, she even named the kidney “Beatrice.”

These “transplant sisters” also agree that “God had everything worked out, every step along the way!”

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Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor