(Memphis) A 10-year-old girl is alive because a stranger gave her a kidney. Meanwhile Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy kept someone alive by donating his kidney.
He set off a chain reaction that actually helped 28 people get donated kidneys. Two stories linked by a rare gift and the kindness of strangers.
While live organ donations are typically reserved for friends and family who want to help a loved one, Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy joined a small group called altruistic donors who follow their hearts and give an organ to a stranger.
"We all have a life-saving extra kidney inside us that we don`t need and maybe we`d consider giving it to somebody who does need it, says Mulroy.
Take 10-year-old Jaquie Shaw. A year ago she wanted three things for Christmas...a wagon, a bicycle and a kidney.
"She gave me a kidney," Jaquie says. "Santa got me a bike and a wagon."
That "she" was Heather Biggs, a 23-year-old Memphian who saw Jaquie's list in a newspaper article.
For Heather, it meant saving up money to pay bills while she recovered, some pain and the loss of an organ that she might need one day.
Heather was determined if she matched, Jaquie would have a kidney.
Jaquie's reaction to the news?
Jaquie: "I screamed."
Her favorite color is violet. She likes to eat hotdogs and bologna. She likes to sing songs by her favorite artist, Taylor Swift.
"Trouble, trouble, trouble. I knew you were trouble when you first walked in."
Jaquie's voice may be small, but the kidney from Heather is not.
"It kind of pushes my belly up some."
A minor discomfort.
Before the transplant, she spent a year on dialysis, nine hours a day, an eternity for a girl who used to chase lightning bugs on summer nights.
Jessie Shaw, Jaquie's cousin who has custody of the girl, said Heather's gift was special because Heather is so young and has a lifetime left with only one kidney.
"I thought it was very nice and considering that she was probably taking away her chances of giving it away to someone in her family if they needed it, Shaw says.
Dr. Bettina AULT, who sees Jaquie once a month at Le Bonhuer Children's Hospital, says Jaquie is tough, but unfortunately most kidneys have a shelf life. It could last longer.
As for Mulroy, his life is richer with one less kidney.
Mulroy doesn't have any regrets and is fully recovered from his surgery. Jaquie plans to spend her summer taking her kidney for a swim.