A Type “O” Good Neighbor Donates Kidney
Sam Miller was running out of time and hope. The genetic kidney disease he had been living with for 20 years was finally taking its toll. He needed a transplant.Transplant kidneys must match certain blood and genetic markers. Other patients often have more options, but Sam did not. He had Type O blood, and could only take an O blood type kidney. Finding a match would be difficult and a relative would be his best hope.
Both of his parents passed away, and miles and matters separated the rest of his family. With his condition worsening, Sam intensified the search for a possible match in 2013. He finally reached an estranged cousin in California. In questioning how other family members dealt with the genetic disorder, the cousin revealed the family secret Sam’s mother had taken to her grave: Sam was adopted. His known relatives would not be a match. He realized the already difficult task would now be close to impossible.
A successful corporate software sales director for Microsoft, Sam was now too sick to work. Online research revealed that someone falsified his birth records to make it impossible to find his birth family. Further, the hospital in which he was born had closed and its medical documents shredded…another dead end.
Every genetic test available found no close relatives in their databases. Sam’s friends all began to test to see if they could help, but the process was slow and tedious. Further, if a match was found, the donor had to be in perfect health. Slowly, each was eliminated for various reasons.
Sam’s “slow boat to hell,” as he called it in a Dallas TV interview, was taking a toll. Sam made frequent trips across country to Mayo Clinic for evaluation and treatment. He was now on dialysis; a procedure he knew could keep him alive, but was no way to live. Some people’s health declines on dialysis, and Sam was not doing well. He prepared his wife, Julie, and their two children for the worst. That included educating Julie about the household insurance in case he didn’t make it through his health situation.
Conversation connects important dots
Linda Horton is Sam’s State Farm Agent, she enjoys his intelligence, kindness and his jokes. Sam likes Linda’s caring personality and thoughtfulness, and he even referred business to Linda. The two stay in touch as insurance needs change. Over a lunch, they discussed his insurance coverage, his condition and his dire need for a kidney to match his Type O blood. That conversation with Linda changed – if not saved – his life.
That same week, in addition to caring for customers like Sam, Linda was also interviewing team members for her growing agency in north Dallas. One of those interviews was with Adrian Serrano.
Adrian talked about his professional accomplishments, his personal life, goals, ambitions and bucket list. The Army reservist, deployed in Iraq in 2004, shared a story about a near-death experience on the battlefield. Adrian said he had “made a deal with God” that if he lived, he would “live his life for God.” Adrian went on to tell Horton he had an O blood type and aspired to be an organ donor. Linda immediately made the connection to her friend and customer, Sam Miller. She told Serrano, “I have a client with an O blood type and he’s also in dire need of a kidney!”
Horton introduced the two. With his previous potential donors all disqualified for one reason or another, Sam was running out of hope. Though certainly grateful for the introduction, he was wary of getting his hopes up that a complete stranger, introduced by his insurance agent, would turn out to be his donor.
However, Adrian was a perfect match and willingly donated his kidney. On the February morning Sam was to have a surgery to re-route blood vessels in his arm for more efficient dialysis; he instead had a transplant. His “slow boat to hell” was starting to turn around.
A match made in heaven
Some might say it was an amazing coincidence. Adrian and Sam feel God had a plan from the beginning.
God orchestrated this from day one,” said Serrano in a Dallas television interview.
Miller said he found faith. ”All of a sudden, I was alive again. We don’t know where this leads, but what a beautiful testimony and sacrifice for, really, a stranger.”
Sam and Adrian are both doing well.
Adrian is back at work, though not at State Farm. Sam suffers from migraines, but nothing more serious. He continues his recovery at home in Dallas taking his wife, son and daughter on trips when their schedules allow.
As for resuming his search for family, Miller says for now he is enjoying his life, family and “taking a breather for a minute.”
Learn more about organ donation at donatelife.net or organdonor.gov
Media Specialist (AZ, Phoenix Hub, NM, UT, MT, WY, CO, OK, TX, Dallas Hub)