Thanksgiving Has Special Meaning For Organ Recipient, Seattle, Washington
Pilot Recevied Kidney From Stranger
SEA-TAC — For Frontier Airlines pilot Ryan Campbell, Thanksgiving meant business as usual. Early Thursday morning he flew passengers from Seattle to Denver. Many people might be annoyed about working on a holiday, Ryan was excited. "I'm just glad i'm healthy enough," Campbell explained.
Last Thanksgiving the 35-year-old was suffering from kidney problems and needed a transplant. Without one a new kidney, the FAA wouldn't allow him to keep flying. Family and friends were tested to see if they could donate, but nobody was a match.
Campbell never imagined a stranger would offer the solution. "I'm thankful that Sandy gave Laurie the idea that she could give someone a kidney," Campbell said. "And Laurie followed the path that was given to her and gave me such a great gift and give me my life back."
"Sandy" was a Starbucks barista who gave her kidney to a customer. Laurie Sobocinski saw the story on the news.. and said a prayer that she could help someone the same way. The next day, Laurie's co-worker mentioned her son-in-law needed a kidney. Laurie didn't know Ryan Campbell, but she knew instantly she was going to give him a kidney.
They had surgery in April and the kidney started working immediately. "It was a perfect match in all senses" Campbell said. "5 months and 7 days after my surgery i was back and ready to fly."
Sobocinski is also back working as a labor and delivery nurse for Group Health. She stays busy volunteering at her church and spending time her family, a family that now includes Campbell. "We talk and text all the time" Sobocinski said.
Both say Thanksgiving has taken on a new meaning this year. "It's been super meaningful, it's been the highlight of my year" Sobocinski said. They say the only thing that could make it better would be their story inspiring someone else. Although she had to undergo surgery to make the donation Sobocinski said she has no second thoughts. "Great emotional satisfaction, the ability to help someone in an incredibly practical way to change their life for the better."
Campbell hopes the kidney will last at least 20-25 years. He will probably need another transplant down the road, but on this holiday, he's not thinking about that. Campbell is grateful the stranger-turned-friend and the many more Thanksgivings he'll have because of her.