Family waiting for kidney donor gives life-saving gift

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jun 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 21:18:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Born and raised in Oceanside, Gary and Georgann Mills prefer living life on the road.

The husband and wife turned their RV into a permanent home years ago to travel to breathtaking destinations.

But their next adventure is on hold as Gary waits for a kidney transplant.

"Gary got diagnosed in November 2016, with stage 4 or 5 kidney disease," remembers Georgann. "That came as a big shock to us."

Neither Georgann, friends, or family were a match for Gary.

However, after connecting with a donor exchange program through Sharp Memorial, Georgann could still help. Her kidney would go to someone else in need, and one would be found for Gary.

Everything was ready to go until the night before surgery. Gary got a call that his donor backed out.

Georgann went through with her transplant, saying it never crossed her mind not to do it.

"I decided to save my recipient from having that very disappointing phone call because I saw what it did to Gary," said Georgann. "So my kidney took a plane flight to the East Coast and has a new home!"

While Gary still needs a kidney, he found a silver lining.

"This way I'll take care of her now and then she'll take care of me when I have mine," said Gary.

His name is now back in the donor match pool.

The Mills' daughter started a Go Fund Me to help pay for Gary's mounting medical expenses.

Gary and Georgann want to raise awareness about living kidney donors. Even if you aren't a match for a family member, they might still be able to get help from the National Kidney Registry. 

The Sharp Memorial transplant team works with patients to find as many opportunities for a possible donor match.

Learn more about Sharp Memorial's kidney-donor chains and the live kidney donor program here.