Tennessee woman giving San Diego man her kidney speaks out for first time

Laura Shockley shares reason behind decision

SAN DIEGO - James Homer Rivera has a failing kidney. He has been on dialysis and has waited seven years for a new kidney.

His wife set up a Facebook page to help look for a donor after their friends and family was not a match for Rivera.

"Well actually, my cousin posted on Facebook that she knew someone who knew someone who was looking for a kidney and I just happened to be a match for them," said Laura Shockley. "I had been trying to donate a kidney and was going to do it for a friend but they got too sick."

That led her to social media, where she connected with Rivera and was able to start the process to give him a gift that would save his life.

"I was, like, speechless that she would be willing to give me her kidney," said Rivera "It's incredible to think that someone is out there like that, wanting to donate an organ."

Shockley's cousin, Alexis Wesley, told 10News, "I think Laura is a superhero. When she found out she could donate to someone here, she had tried for years to donate where she was, so she jumped on that."

Wesley and her husband recently made national headlines. Just six weeks ago, they became the first couple to each donate one of their kidneys. The cousins say giving just runs in the family.

Shockley traveled back and forth from Tennessee to San Diego undergoing tests and waiting for news that the surgery could happen. In September, they were told they were a match and surgery was scheduled for November. Last week, the surgery was suddenly canceled because of a one-day nurses' strike.

However, after 10News aired a story on Rivera, the hospital CEO called and rescheduled the surgery.

"I broke down and probably cried for 10 minutes," said Rivera. "The emotions, the relief knowing that I was going to get my kidney … my search was done."

Shockley is not receiving a dime for her kidney.

"In fact, the testing was designed to ensure that there is no monetary exchange or gifts and no promises made," said Shockley. "They are a young happy family and they should be healthy. He needs to be able to take his daughters to the park to teach them softball. His wife needs a strong support system to help with the family."

Rivera told 10News words cannot express how grateful he is to Shockley.

"When I say thank you, she says no, thank you for letting me do this," said Rivera.

The surgery is scheduled for Friday at UC San Diego Medical Center.

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