Organ donation connects 2 complete strangers

Coloradoan | Erin Udell

Photo: Valerie Mosley

Dean Gebhardt had never met Cynthia McCully. He'd never heard her name before or seen her face. Even during the poking and the prodding, the blood tests and paperwork to donate one of his kidneys, he didn't know who it was all for.

He just wanted to help someone, even before he met McCully. Before he knew what the process would be like. Before his wife even came around to the idea of him giving one of his kidneys to a complete stranger.

In October, the 61-year-old Fort Collins resident gave McCully, 58, of Westminster, one of his kidneys, ending her four years on dialysis.

Meeting for the first time before the surgery, Gebhardt found McCully hobbling on a cane, her body ravaged by kidney failure, a neuromuscular disorder called Charcot joint and half a dozen bouts with a staph infection that resulted in the amputation of her right lower leg. Continue reading