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Woman donates kidney to save relative’s life

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

One Pumpkin Center resident and Lincoln County business owner is donating a kidney today to save a relative’s life.
Christina Stone, a massage therapist and owner of Healing Touch in Lincolnton, didn’t think twice about helping her mother-in-law, Kathy Stone, when doctors told the ill woman she needed a kidney transplant to survive.
For at least the last two decades, Kathy Stone, who lives in Watertown, New York, has experienced trouble with the two small organs.
Following a severe illness, which included pancreatitis, both her kidneys stopped working, Christina said.
The traumatic incident took place 23 years ago, and Kathy was rushed into emergency surgery to undergo her first kidney transplant, taking one from her sister.
The kidney remained healthy for 20 years, five years longer than doctors originally anticipated, Christina said.
The second transplant, set for today, will take place at Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.
Kathy has been on dialysis for three hours a day, three days a week for the last one-and-a-half years, Christina said.
When the Lincoln County woman opted to get herself tested earlier this spring to see if she would be a match for her mother-in-law, she had no idea the answer would be “yes.”
Yet she was mentally prepared for the news and knew she had to follow through, particularly since all other family members had been ruled out as matches.
“I was probably the last one to offer,” Christina said.
If a match, she was 100 percent confident she would give her kidney.
“There’s no way I would every say ‘no,’” she said.
In the beginning, the Stones were certain Christina’s husband would be the right donor, especially after doctors told him he was a match for his mother and carried out a variety of tests on him for seven months.
Unfortunately, medical officials later discovered Kathy’s blood contained an antibody that was attacking his blood, Christina said.
Months later, additional potential donors were asked to come forward.
After a conversation Christina had with her sister-in-law, she felt an inner urge to get tested.
“I felt very compelled,” she said. “I knew all along I had the same blood type.”
Her doctor, however, told her she had a “one-in-a-million chance” of being a true match, but to get checked anyway to rule out the possibility.
After learning she was right for the transplant, Christina immediately relayed the joyous news to Kathy, who couldn’t help but respond in an emotional way.
“She began to cry,” Christina said. “She said, ‘There are no words to say thank you.’”
Earlier this month, Christina headed north to begin preparations and pre-surgical testing.
If all goes well during the operation, she will only be in hospital care a few days and able to return home a week from today.
“You never know what may happen when you’re under the knife,” Christina said, “but as far as complications…everything should be fine.”
Doctors even told her that her remaining kidney would grow in size to compensate for the missing one.
Because healing is her life’s calling, Christina couldn’t be more thrilled to meet Kathy’s medical need.
“I am a massage therapist and heal people everyday,” she said, “and what an opportunity to not only heal someone but save their life. And what better opportunity than to save my mother-in-law.”

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