Virginia DMV employee, Chesterfield man saved by siblings’ kidney donations
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Two sets of siblings are celebrating Living Donor Day together after two life-saving kidney transplants.
Drivers who decide to check off the box to become an organ donor now have a sentimental meaning to Evon Walker, who has worked at the South Hill DMV for over two decades.
Walker never thought she’d be on the receiving end of an organ donation.
“I would get winded. I had no strength. It had just taken everything out of me,” Walker said.
Walker was diagnosed with Minimal Change Disease in recent years, which caused her kidney function to decline. After dieting, exercising, and medication didn’t work, she was told that she needed a kidney transplant.
Sam Maye also needed a kidney transplant. Diabetes forced him to go on dialysis for two years.
“I’m on the machine until maybe 9-10 in the morning because it’s a 12-hour process, seven days a week,” Maye said.
Evon’s sister Carol Chapman and Sam’s sister Sophia Maye-Smith wanted to give their siblings a second chance at life, but they were not a perfect match.
They thought hope was lost until doctors told them about the SWAP program, a paired exchange where an incompatible donor and a recipient pair match with another incompatible donor and a recipient pair.
The two sets of siblings didn’t know who would be there to answer their prayers.
Doctors found Sam would be the perfect recipient for Carol, and Sophia was a perfect match for Evon.
“[I] didn’t want to give him a healthy kidney, and he gets five years [to live] as opposed to 15 if Evon can have it and get 17-20 years whatever,” Sophia said.
Waiting on a deceased donation from the organ transplant list could have taken 5-10 years, Sam said. On July 26, 2021, the four met for the first time and underwent surgery. The two sets of siblings who were once strangers were now bonded for life.
“We had a very grateful Thanksgiving this past year because we all got to meet and appreciate each other. We’re all huggers, and now we’re all an extended family. We have another brother and sister,” Evon said.
They are planning a special celebration for their one-year anniversary. Grateful for a second chance at life, the recipients now encourages others to become a living organ donor to help save more lives more quickly.
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