By Luke Kenton
This woman flew across the US to run ‘hand-in-hand’ with the stranger who saved her husband’s life just months before.
In September 2017, Neil Emmott was in a race against time, as his kidney function had dropped below 10 percent, and the 56-year-old father-of-two was in desperate need of a life-saving donation.
A little more than a year on, Neil’s wife, Lisa, was also in a race of her own – running a half-marathon, in San Francisco, California, alongside the complete stranger who stepped in to save her husband’s life.
Lisa recalled that she “felt kid at Christmas” as she described the moments leading up to meeting Shannon Bousfield, 44, her husband’s once anonymous savior.
She said: “I wasn’t nervous until I saw her car pull into the driveway of where I was staying.”
Diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) in 2001 – a condition causing kidneys to expand and form cysts within – Neil watched on in agony over the next 15 years as two of his vital organs began to gradually fail before his eyes.
But just weeks before Neil was to be placed on mandatory dialysis, a stranger’s kidney arrived on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, in what Lisa would go on to describe as the “greatest gift” the family has ever received.
Hoping to repay any amount of the immeasurable debt the Emmott’s felt, the family reached out to The National Kidney Registry in an attempt to unearth the donor’s identity.
Receiving an email from Shannon in January 2018, Lisa and Mrs. Bousfield pledged to unite by running together in the Golden Gate Half-Marathon 10 months later.
Strangers in person but bonded eternally by a single act of live-saving selflessness, the pair ran the entire 13.1 miles side-by-side, on November 4.
Crossing the finish-line hand-in-hand, the end of the race marked the beginning of a “life-long friendship” for Lisa and Shannon.
Lisa, who founded the charitable organisation Kidney Warriors following her husband’s life-saving transplant, said: “I knew I wanted to meet Shannon at some point, and I thought there must be something I can do in her honour.
“I noticed Shannon was a runner and thought maybe I could run a 5k for her.
“But after staying in touch throughout the months, we set our sights on the Gold Gate half-marathon.
“We selected the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop for our run because the bridge is known for being foggy – and our search of a kidney transplant was often plagued by cloud with no clear end in sight.
“She is so significant to our family, because her kidney keeps my husband alive – it’s the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
“It was an emotional and ‘happy tears’ moment [when we met].
“To run a race of this magnitude with the woman who gave her kidney to my husband is just indescribable – adequate words just don’t exist in this galaxy.
“Shannon and I have more in common than just her kidney being the perfect match for my husband.
“She has a great sense of humour and we share the same morals and values.
“We will always remain close – we now share a very special bond.
“We’ve already discussed making this race an annual occurrence together.
“Not only did my husband get Superwoman’s kidney, but I also got a best-friend – for life.”