A Pastor Walks Into A Pharmacy… And Leaves With A Second Chance At Life!

donnie pickerel and kathleen kirkland smiling and posing together. he's sitting up while in a hospital bed while she leans over toward him with her arm around him.

Many people believe that everything happens for a reason, and Donnie Pickeral is one of them.

Donnie is a pastor at Aycock Fellowship Ministries in Greensboro, North Carolina. A few years ago, he stopped by his local CVS and met pharmacist Kathleen Kirkland. The two of them hit it off, and they’d often chat while Donnie was picking up his prescriptions.

Donnie never mentioned to Kathleen that he had been living with a rare kidney disease called IgA nephropathy for the past 31 years. Doctors had told him his kidneys would fail when he was in his early 20s, but he held on for a lot longer than that.

Still, his condition finally caught up to him in 2019. With his kidneys failing, he was facing the prospect of dialysis unless he could find a donor.

“For me to live someone else would have to die or someone would have to give of themselves,” he recalled.

His kidney function had dropped to less than 10% on the day that Donnie finally decided to mention his condition to Kathleen.

“She said, ‘I want to give you my kidney,'” Donnie recalled. “Tears came to my eyes cause I wasn’t expecting her to say that. We talked a bit more and found out we’re the same blood type. We did a fist bump and she started doing her tests and she was a perfect match for me. I felt in my heart when I walked out of that store that the lord was saying to me she was the one. No one else was even testing. She was the one.”

Kathleen felt the same way.

“I feel like God puts people in your path for a reason, and I feel like Donnie came to my pharmacy for me to help him,” she said.

In May of 2020, this wife and mother-of-three gave Donnie one of her kidneys. The surgery was a complete success, and both Kathleen and Donnie are now happy and healthy! Donnie was able to go back to preaching full time, and he’s finally able to eat without restrictions for the first time in his adult life.

“I knew he had so much more left to give the world,” Kathleen said. “I was happy to be able to help him do that.”

Kathleen says helping people is why she went into pharmacy in the first place and that she’d happily give more kidneys away if she had them. Wow, talk about being selfless!

Don’t forget to share this story to thank Kathleen for her life-saving gift.

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