North Carolina (WGHP) -- Barbara Lester was living a great life until her father butted in -- OK, not her father, per se, but his genetics -- specifically, a gene that gave Lester polycystic kidney disease.
She’d lived with it most of her adult life until one of the cysts burst, in 2015 and it became clear she’d need a new kidney soon.
Lester’s wife of 20 years, Pam Stanley, had a plan for that moment.
“I always held out hope that I would be the one that could come save the day -- I would come riding to the rescue: here's my kidney, you can have it, I don't need it,” Stanley said.
But Stanley wasn’t a match and there was one thing Lester had determined, watching her father deal with the illness.
“I did not want dialysis,” Lester said sternly. “My dad was on that for 10 years. I did not want to go down that path if I could avoid it.”
That meant finding a donor and they thought they had one fairly quickly.
“It came down to the last tube of blood and the antibodies didn't match -- they didn't play well, together,” Lester said. “Because we'd already arranged to get her here from Colorado, it was heartbreaking.”
“Oh, my gosh, we both just sobbed over that one,” Stanley said.
A friend put out a request on Facebook about what Lester needed. That friend was a professional acquaintance of Donna Baily, who lived about 100 miles away in Southern Pines.
“I did it kind of thinking, ‘Well, what are the chances of me matching this complete stranger that I've never met before?’” Baily said.
Good enough -- Lester had finally found her donor.
“And, for somebody to take that leap and give you that, that chance of life, I mean, how do you ever say thank you?” Lester said.