Delaware nurse gives man ‘life back’ with kidney

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Thu., December 31, 2015

WPVI-TV ABC 6NEWARK, Del. (WPVI) — For six years, Terry Sukeena was on dialysis and the transplant waiting list, but he tells Action News he never gave up hope.

During that time, he’d help nurses like Joanne Smith when new patients came into the Fresenius Medical Clinic in Newark, Delaware.

“They meet me. I kind of talk to them about what the different options are,” said Smith.

And Sukeena would share his personal experience with dialysis, at home and in the clinic.

This summer, it struck Smith she could do more than give verbal support to her patients – she could give a kidney.

“I was in church, standing in line for communion, and Terry’s name came into my head. And it was like God, you know, why didn’t I think of him,” said Smith. “I didn’t know if I was a match for Terry.”

But she started the testing, and when it appeared she was healthy enough to donate, Smith went to Sukeena’s house to tell him.

“He was like yeah I’ve been on the list, I think I’m probably going to get a kidney pretty soon. I said, well, as a matter of fact you are,” said Smith. “I said I’m being worked up to donate a kidney to you, and I got nothing.”

“It was a total shock,” said Sukeena.

“I didn’t hear anything from him for about five days, and then he called me at the office and he’s like, ‘Is this for real?’ ” said Smith.

It was for real, and on Aug. 11 Sukeena received Smith’s kidney.

Within weeks, Smith was back at work, and Sukeena was better than he’d been in years.

“You get your life back, you know, you don’t rely on a machine to live,” said Sukeena.

Smith says she wasn’t nervous through the process, in fact, she felt it was meant to be.

The two tell Action New they hope more people will give a little of themselves in 2016.

As Sukeena says, the impact you can have on somebody else’s life is immeasurable.

Watch the full story at WPVI online