- Debby Neal-Strickland married Jim Merthe and two days later donated her kidney to Merthe’s ex-wife.
- Mylaen Merthe had struggled with kidney disease for a long time and was hospitalized in November.
- Merthe and Neal-Strickland now call each other kidney sisters and have a family trip planned.
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Two days after she got married, a woman in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, donated a kidney to her new husband’s ex-wife.
Mylaen Merthe, 59, had struggled with kidney disease for years but last year, in November, she was so ill that her kidneys were only functioning at 8%, as reported by AP.
Merthe was about to become a grandmother for the first time as her daughter was pregnant. After being admitted to hospital, her brother offered to donate a kidney but it, unfortunately, wasn’t a match.
Debby Neal-Strickland told AP that she imagined Merthe’s daughter giving birth and her mother not being there to greet her granddaughter, and this is what made her decide to volunteer.
“I just couldn’t not try to change that. God told me, ‘You’re a match and you need to do this,'” Neal-Strickland told AP.
“When somebody needs an organ, if they don’t get it, they’re probably not going to make it. I know it’s something that you do quickly.”
However, there was a small problem: Neal-Strickland was due to be married to Merthe’s ex-husband Jim Merthe just two days before the planned kidney transplant. Neal-Strickland considered canceling the wedding, as they had done twice before in deference to their own children’s engagements, but ultimately decided to go ahead.
Neal-Strickland and Jim Merthe married on November 22 after 10 years of dating.
“It was the most amazing day of my life, until two days later. That was also the most amazing day of my life,” Neal-Strickland said.
Debby Neal-Strickland and Jim Merthe married after 10 years of dating.
She then swapped the wedding gown for a hospital gown 48 hours later, and the procedure went as planned.
Neal-Strickland said that she asked to see Merthe straight away after she regained consciousness. She said she could immediately see Merthe was healthier already: the dark circles under her eyes had gone and she had regained a little color.
“We had our masks on, too, so we’re crying, and of course, our stomachs were hurting because of the incisions,” Merthe said. “We kinda laughed and cried.”
Merthe then moved in with her daughter and son-in-law and her new grandchild to recuperate, achieving her dream of being a grandparent.
“I got to hold him and feed him. I was like, ‘I’m actually here to see this and I’m holding this little baby,'” Merthe told AP, Merthe has since welcomed a second grandchild, born in March.
Merthe and her ex-husband Jim divorced two decades ago and they have been on good terms ever since, co-parenting two children together. Merthe and Neal-Strickland have been friendly at family events and always got on well enough but it wasn’t until this life-changing event that they became close.
Now, they call each other kidney sisters and the entire family is planning a trip to Lake Ruban in Georgia this summer to celebrate.
“This is what the world is about. Family. We need to stick together,” Merthe said. “She saved my life.”
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