TEMPLE, TX — A Central Texas News Now exclusive story helped connect two families that will soon have a lot more in common than their battles with kidney related illnesses.
A Central Texas mom will donate her kidney to a young father from Temple.
"The hospital called to tell me that I was a match for him, and they asked if I wanted them to tell him or if I wanted to reach out and tell him myself. And I was able to tell them, and that was just awesome," said Patty Caldwell, who will soon donate her kidney to Darius Joiner. "I had been Facebook stalking him and his girlfriend, and so I sent them a group message on Facebook."
The Facebook message meant a new start for Joiner and his family.
"I remember Darius was in the shower and I read the message," said Jesssica Moreno, Joiner's girlfriend and mother of his two young children. "I read the part where she said she was a match, and then I thought it was going to be like but something else you know. And I read it like three times, and then I screamed Darius' name and I was shocked I was speechless."
Joiner needs a kidney transplant as soon as possible, and the father of two been waiting for his match. Caldwell was just one of many touched by Joiner's story when it first aired on Central Texas News Now.
"In November, I saw the story air that Darius was needing a kidney," Caldwell said. "I saw in the story that we had the same blood type, and I was reading into it and saw that he was just this healthy normal person trying to better his life and then all of a sudden, it just got halted. And I was extremely drawn to it. I kind of obsessed over it for a little while, as creepy as that sounds. Spoke with my husband about it, spoke with my close friends like, and everyone supported me so I followed through with applying."
She says she watched his story about 100 times.
"This weird like draw. It's almost like a magnet or something. I just like, this man has got to watch his babies grow up. Like he needs to walk his daughter down the isle. He needs to watch his son be a man and teach him to throw the football and do all those things," said Caldwell.
Caldwell knows all too well how it feels to see a loved one in pain. Her daughter, Paige, has suffered from kidney reflux for the majority of her 8-year-old life.
"Reflux is something that's very common in little kids and almost always goes away, but it can be very severe and lead to kidney failure, and Darius' living kidney donor actually was kind of attuned to the importance of kidney disease because her child had some reflux," said Dr. Steven Potter, transplant sergeant at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple.
Soon, the two families will have much more in common than a diagnosis.
"They're a fantastic match for each other. Living donor kidneys are better than deceased donor kidneys. They last longer. They work right away. They work better, so it's really the fact that he has a living donor that saves him years of waiting and adds many many years to his life," said Potter.
"It means we get to go back to, you know, our old lifestyle. You know Darius will be able to work again, and our life won't be so hectic with dialysis," said Moreno.
"It's a blessing, you know. It's a blessing in disguise. Honestly, I didn't think it would be so soon," said Joiner.
And the families have already spent time together.
"You know, meeting her family first in person, actually I like them. You know they're really cool," said Joiner.
It's a friendship they hope will last for years to come.
"Lifetime... it's a lifetime," said Joiner.
The sentiment is shared by Caldwell.
"I 100 percent hope so," added Caldwell.
After KXXV aired Joiner's story back in November, more than 100 people called the Baylor Scott and White transplant program and applied to be living kidney donors. Caldwell was just one of many who applied.
The kidney transplant was scheduled for July 2 at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Temple.
They said the transplant was a success.
The families shared Joiner's kidney function had already doubled the morning after his surgery Tuesday, and he broke the hospital's record for producing the most urine in less than 24 hours.
Contact Baylor Scott and White - Temple for more information on becoming a living donor.