Two complete strangers in Louisville, Kentucky, started out as simply a kidney match and ended up being much more compatible than either had ever imagined.
Danny Robinson, 25, suffered from IgA nephropathy, a disease that gradually damages kidney function. Robinson was diagnosed at age 16, and eventually needed a new kidney. He soon began dialysis.
“I was on dialysis three days a week, four hours a day," Robinson told USA Today. Family members offered to donate kidneys to the young man, but nobody was a match.
Enter Ashley McIntyre.
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McIntyre’s mother, Kim, first heard about Robinson when his mother appeared on a radio show to share her son’s story. Kim was driving from Nashville to Louisville when she caught the interview, and later told her daughter about it. McIntyre, 26, was touched by the young man’s story, and decided to reach out. She contacted Robinson’s mother on Facebook, and was soon getting various tests to determine if she was a match. “It was just one match after another,” Kim said. “I thought, 'This can't be coincidence.'"
When it was determined that McIntyre would definitely be donating her kidney to Robinson, the pair and their families arranged to meet at a local Cheesecake Factory. “We all clicked immediately,” McIntyre said. “They told me I would always be a part of their family.”
McIntyre and Robinson soon began talking on the phone and texting regularly. As they begun to spend more time with each other, friends of theirs started jokingly saying the two should date. They considered it, but were worried it would complicate their relationship if the transplant didn’t work out.
Finally, on April 17, the couple had their surgeries. “Everything went great,” transplant surgeon Dr. Malay Shah said. “There were no real issues whatsoever."
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While McIntyre and Robinson were in the hospital recovering, they hung out often and would write notes to one another on the kidney-shaped hospital pillows. “Words cannot express how much (you've) done for me,” Robinson wrote in one message. His family also gave her a musical jewelry box engraved with, “Ashley, you're an angel."
After leaving the hospital, the pair’s bond grew. At a Memorial Day barbecue, they began a romantic relationship, and soon realized that they were meant for each other. McIntyre later found out she was pregnant, and Robinson took the next step to move their relationship forward. “On Christmas Day, we went to my mom's and started opening gifts,” he said. “I told her I'd forgotten one and pulled out a small box.” Robinson then got down on one knee and proposed.
The couple is now planning a wedding and preparing for their future together – a future that literally would not have happened had it not been for McIntyre’s simple desire to help someone in need.
Source: USA Today / Photo Credit: Courier Journal via usatoday.com