Woman giving kidney to complete stranger

Updated: Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Woman giving kidney to complete stranger story image

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A West Michigan woman will give the gift of life Thursday to someone who had been a complete stranger.
The remarkable story started with a TV show.

Marci Prince, a mom from Hastings, tells Newschannel 3 she always wanted to be an organ donor.

A few months ago, she happened to turn on a talk show about kidney disease.

It encouraged her to take a leap of faith and sign up to donate.

Little did she know, her kidneys were a perfect match for a man who only lived about an hour away in Rockford.
Rick Herlacher had been on a kidney transplant list for more than a year.  

“There’s no cure for kidney disease, the type I have,” Rick explains.

Rick, an Air Force veteran, makes a fitting analogy: “You’re really fighting a war with yourself when you have kidney disease.  All the people you see out in the dialysis center, they're kind of like the foot soldiers. They keep me going. But Marci's like the SEAL team. She's coming in and she's changing the whole game for me.”

Rick and Marci became fast friends after Marci got the call to donate in April.

Besides having a kidney in common, the two share a love for humor and home-grown tomatoes and a belief in miracles.

“It’s not just a match, it's a very good match, practically as good as if it was a family member giving it to me,” Rick notes. “How can that be? Unless it was meant to be.”

In fact, a match like this, from an unrelated anonymous donor, almost never happens.  

There was only one in the entire country last year, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

“God put me there for a reason,” Marci reflects. “He made me watch that show that particular day to start the ball rolling and for everything just to happen like textbook. It's incredible.”

The National Kidney Foundation says 100-thousand people in the US are currently waiting for a kidney transplant.  Every 20 minutes, someone is added to that list.  Every day, 14 people die waiting.  

Thanks to Marci, Rick is not one of them.

“I didn't do this to be a hero,” says Marci. “My everyday life is just plain Jane. I did this because I felt I needed to somehow. I want people to know if they look at me as being a hero, go be a hero! Go offer to donate a kidney. Go sign up on the registry. Just go do something!”
Rick’s transplant will take place Thursday morning.

The main message Rick and Marci wanted to share is that there is a huge need for organ donors, especially here in Michigan.  

They tell Newschannel 3 the kidney wait list in our state is years longer than surrounding states.

They encourage people to like their Facebook page to follow their journey: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Be-the-Change/348774308607966.

And for more information on kidney donation, click here: http://www.kidney.org/.

To find out more about organ donation in general, click here: http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html.

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