By Luke Kenton
This good Samaritan honoured her New Year’s resolution to ‘save a life’ by selflessly agreeing to donate her kidney to a dying stranger she found on the advertising website, Craigslist.
For most, New Year’s resolutions rarely extend beyond sentiments of losing weight or giving-up junk food, but 30-year-old Jessica Morris wanted 2018 to be the year that she ‘gave her life purpose’ – so she aimed much higher.
Pledging to save a life’ before the end of the year, as soon as the clock struck twelve on December 31, the surgical technician from Orange County, California, began browsing the internet in search of a worthwhile cause.
Having her mind set on the idea of donating a kidney several years ago, Jessica found herself on the Facebook group ‘Kidney Donors Network’ and stumbled across a link to an ad on the website Craigslist, published by a man in desperate need of a life-saving donation.
Perfect match, Jessica thought.
Reaching out immediately, the hopeful recipient was soon revealed to be David Nichere, 30, of San Francisco, who’d been suffering end-stage kidney failure for six-and-a-half years, and, if not for Jessica’s timely intervention, had resigned to the idea of slowly dying.
Weeks away from entering a hospice to see out the rest of his days through dialysis treatment, Jessica admits David was somewhat skeptical of her anonymous pledge to save his life – but all that changed when they met for the first time four months later.
Jessica said: “I have wanted to donate [a kidney] for a long-time, and I’d been looking for a while – but it remained just an idea that I wanted to do, rather than actually seriously going through with it.
“It’s easy to say you’ll do something, it’s another thing all together to follow through with it.
“So on New Year’s I made the decision to actually go through with it.
“I was pretty straightforward with David [when I messaged him], he probably thought I was weird.
“David was skeptical and hopeful, but you can tell he was refusing to get too excited about it.
“Donation is a tough process, and it’s extremely hard to be approved for the operation.
“Patients on dialysis like David are very beaten up and used to being let down, this was apparent throughout my entire testing period.
“It didn’t sink in for David that his life was really about to change until he got the call to schedule surgery.
“I saw a different side of David in the hospital.
“He really is an amazing person, I’m so happy I was able to help him.”
After having his first kidney operation at just three-months-old, in the 30-years that would follow, David would have to endure 26 more procedures and a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, before being told his kidneys could no longer function.
Facing the reality of a ‘slow-death’, the freelance writer decided to try one-last throw of the dice by posting an advertisement for a kidney donor to Craigslist – and miraculously it landed in Jessica’s lap.
Meeting face-to-face for the first-time in April, the pair instantly struck an instant accord with one another, before being given the go-ahead by doctors to proceed with the operation, on June 11.
Both recovering well from the procedure, Jessica hopes she and David can both one day experience their mutual love of backpacking together.
Jessica said: “I’ll be honest, I don’t think either of us got super emotional about it until the day of surgery when we realised nobody was going to tell us no [we couldn’t go through with it].
“David has become like a brother to me.
“In the hospital it felt like David was my twin – it was so cool to recover together and share our experiences.
“He will always be a part of my family and I will always be a part of his.
“David’s kidney function went up immediately and continues to improve.
“He hasn’t needed dialysis at all which has been the biggest blessing to him.
“The recovery period is supposed to be six weeks off work, I took 10 days.
“I have a very high threshold for pain, so I was up and walking three days after the operation.
“I’ve been on two backpacking trips in the past month and I’m only four months post-op.
“David has obviously had a more difficult time with pain, but he should be cleared to start travelling in six months.
“This has been the most memorable experience of my life.
“I’ve donated to charities in the past and fostered dogs, but I never felt I was making enough of a difference.
“To know I was literally able to save someone’s life, will stay with me for the rest of mine – I would do it again a million times over.
“We are all seeking a purpose in life, and you will never find one more rewarding than being someone’s hero.
“I was so happy to be able to help him.”
Please visit David’s website www.FindAKidneyDonor.com for more information about becoming a donor.