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'The gift of life': Harker Heights woman donates kidney to stranger across the country

Kidney donation
Posted at 7:39 PM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-19 23:58:12-05

HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas — 'Be positive' isn't just a life mantra for Heather Schaefer, of Harker Heights. It also happens to be her blood type.

It's just one thing she has in common with a once-unsuspecting stranger, Roy McIntosh, of New Jersey.

"Her giving herself to me, the gift of life...is just amazing," McIntosh said.

Call it a miracle or the ultimate coincidence, Schaefer happened to come across a Facebook post last December from McIntosh's wife, Toshira. She was asking for prayers for McIntosh, who was in stage five of kidney failure.

Without thinking twice, Schaefer sent her a message.

"I know this is crazy, because we have never met. But I am B+ and healthy," she wrote. "I've been looking into donations. If you are still looking for a donor I would love to talk with you more about it."

Schaefer was a perfect match.

"Any time someone would ask me, 'Are you sure you want to do this?', it just reaffirmed that I did," Schaefer said.

Flash forward to June 8, 2022, after two years of dialysis, McIntosh, a father of five, received a new kidney. Two weeks later, the pair spoke for the first time.

"Long term, I see the effect that this will have on his whole family," he said. "That he'll get to see his kids grow up. And he'll get to be there for them all. It's beautiful."

Now, the two wear matching bangles every day to symbolize their permanent bond.

"It's just a reminder of the gift that she gave me," McIntosh said.

Schaefer hopes the story helps encourage others to consider live organ donations.