For one Valley resident, this Christmas isn't about gifts; it's about celebrating life. Doctors kept telling Kellina Mitchell all her life that she wouldn't make it, but at 27, Mitchell says this is the best she's ever felt after she received a kidney transplant from her boss.
"It's something you hear on TV. It's something you hear on the radio, or you hear on 'Good Morning America.' You know, that your boss or somebody that gives you a kidney that's not your family or relative and I didn't know what to say. It's hard to say anything," says Mitchell.
After living with a kidney disease for 27 years, doctors had told Mitchell she needed to either have dialysis or a new kidney, but time was running out.
After searching for a match, she was surprised to learn the only person that passed the tests to donate was her boss.
"I have four daughters and my thought was if someone could give a kidney to one my daughters, but they couldn't and wouldn't just because of the pain of the surgery, or the discomfort or what they have to go through. She has a nine-year-old daughter, so it didn't take much to convince me to do it," said Dr. Stephen Paulette, who donated his kidney to Mitchell.
While both are still recovering from the November surgery, Mitchell says she's feeling great.
"I feel my age. Before I slept like 15 hours or 12 hours a night. On the weekends, I would take two or three naps. My body was just really tired," says Mitchell. "So, I feel completely different."
Despite the inconvenience of surgery and a little pain, Paulette says there are positive sides of being an organ donor.
"When I do die, I will still be a donor for other organs, but you don't get the gratification of doing it while you're still alive, and this allows you to do that," says Paulette.
"There's no words, there's no gifts, there's nothing you can do. I mean, he saved my life," says Mitchell.
Mitchell says there is this unspoken gratitude toward her boss and a special bond that will always be between them. Paulette says he would have done this for anyone in his office, and he says Mitchell's Christmas bonus this year was a working kidney.