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Woman in search of kidney finds donor at a restaurant

The average wait time for a kidney in Mississippi is 7 years. Living donors have a 98% chance of success with their recipient.
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 8:49 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - In early March, John Wickham and his wife went to a restaurant in Ocean Springs for brunch. After waiting 45 minutes to be seated, they took matters into their own hands.

“Linda and her husband Greg were sitting down and there were two open spots next to them,” said Wickham. “So I went over and said, ‘do you mind if we take your spots?’ She said, ‘yes I do.’ And I said, ‘we are going to get along.’ She said, ‘sit down, grab some chairs.’ We sat down and we ordered and just started talking.”

Wickham’s wife noticed Linda Thompson wearing hand warmers and learned that she kept them because she has a kidney disease, causing poor circulation due to dialysis treatments three days a week, four hours a day.

“I said how long have you been doing that,” Wickham recalled. “She said, ‘two years. And I’m like, why has it taken you two years to get a donor? She said, ‘I have a rare blood type.’ I said, what is it? She told me, and I said, that’s my blood type.”

Fast forward two months after more than 60 tests, and Wickham has been approved to be her donor, something Thompson could have never imagined happening.

“It’s just amazing,” said Thompson. “We live five minutes away from each other and had never met.”

The families expect the transplant to happen next month. For Wickham, that means 1-3 days in the hospital and 4-6 weeks at home. For Thompson, it’s an extension of life.

“My husband and I aren’t super religious either, but we do feel there is a higher power and sometimes there is just something that brings people together,” said Thompson.

When Wickham is asked why he would donate his kidney to a stranger, he gave this response.

“Why wouldn’t you,” he said. “If you could save someone’s life, and really not affect yours very much at all, why wouldn’t you? That’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s why we’ve been put on earth.”

The normal wait time for a kidney in Mississippi is seven years. Living donors have a 98% chance of success with their recipient.

If you would like to give towards Thompson’s fundraiser for the surgery, visit this story, visit https://www.facebook.com/donate/540493127791419/.

If you would like to learn more about being an organ donor, visit www.organdonor.gov.

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