With a New Kidney Came a New Friend

May 09, 2018, 5:04pm EDT

Seven months ago, Leah Elliott’s husband, Christopher, called her while she was on a trip in Florida with an unexpected business idea. He wanted to open a road side stand to sell apples and pumpkins during the fall. “My husband is a dreamer,” says Leah. “He gets his love for agriculture from his grandfather who was a farmer.”
She surprised herself by agreeing, and, even then, she had a feeling there was something bigger connected to this project. Once she returned from her trip, Leah and her husband jumped right into creating their business and putting it on social media. That’s when Leah met Wendy Shirley, her first Facebook connection.
Shirley, a nurse by trade, was selling cornstalks from her husband’s dairy farm. Leah needed to buy some cornstalks for their road side stand, so they connected. Their first meeting was hardly memorable, but not long afterwards, a close friend told her that Wendy needed a kidney transplant. “I said I would give her one of mine but didn’t think anything else about it until a week later when I saw on Facebook post about Wendy’s need for a kidney,” says Leah. “I turned my name in and found out a week later my kidney was a match! I could not believe it.”
At first, so many people wanted to help Wendy, it looked like Leah’s kidney would not be needed. “I was totally bummed,” admits Leah. “But I felt like God was leading me to her. I can’t really explain it.” Leah also recognized their similarities – they were both wives, mothers and sisters. She persisted and asked the hospital to still consider her. Seven weeks later, Leah finally received the call she had been waiting for: She was a match with Wendy. “I can’t even begin to tell you how I felt,” says Leah. “There really aren’t words to express that kind of joy!”
The following week, Leah went into the hospital to do some testing. While there were a few initial hiccups, she eventually found out that she was approved as a donor. It took her everything not to cry from happiness on the spot. “I later cried not only for Wendy, because she deserved this new chance at a healthier life, but I cried for myself because I was so happy, and it felt great!” says Leah.
On January 30th, 2018, Wendy underwent a kidney transplant with Leah’s kidney, and the surgery was successful for both. The two (Leah, pictured left and Wendy, pictured right) remain close and visit each other in their hometown of Lascassas, Tennessee.
Leah and her husband plan to open their road side stand come fall. “It has been an amazing road to walk and I am blessed to have Wendy and her whole family in my life,” says Leah. “It is amazing how you can love someone so completely and only know them for such a short period of time! Donating my kidney was one of the best decisions I have made in my adult life and if I could do it all over again, I would!”