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Woman Gives “Spare” Kidney To Coworker Who Once Couldn’t Remember Her Name.

Rachel Harrelson and Julie Patterson holding cake that says "take my spare."

It’s not every day that an inside joke lands someone a new lease on life! In 2020, Julie Patterson and Rachel Harrelson started working together at the same Madison, Georgia dental office. The dental assistant and dental hygienist didn’t know each other very well; in fact, for the first six to nine months, Julie couldn’t even remember Rachel’s name! For some reason, she kept calling her new coworker “Angela.” The misnomer became a running gag between the two women, and a casual friendship followed.

In December 2021, Julie was getting ready for the office Christmas party when she learned that she’d been added to the national organ donor registry as someone in need of a kidney. She was born with a common kidney disorder called IgA nephropathy, and over the years, the condition had worn away her kidney function.

Now in advanced kidney failure, Julie faced a race against time to find kidney donor before she needed dialysis. That night at the party, Julie told her coworkers what she was up against. She didn’t know it, but just sharing her burden with them set the wheels of change in motion.

Rachel immediately thought about getting tested to see if she was a match for Julie. She kept the thought to herself at first, but over the holidays she talked it over with her husband. He agreed that if she was a match, giving Julie her “spare” kidney seemed like the right thing to do.

“I just prayed about it for a while,” Rachel recalled. “And, it just, I don’t know. I was just very calm and peaceful about it.”

Julie had originally assumed she’d get matched with a donor right away, but she quickly learned it wasn’t so simple. Doctors told her it could be years before she found a match. They urged her to use whatever resources she had, including social media, to get the word out to everyone she knows. Doing so greatly increases the chances of finding a living organ donor who’s already in her social realm.

Julie made a Facebook post, and she was elated when people started getting tested to see if they were a match. She didn’t know it, but Rachel was one of those people… and she turned out to be a perfect match!

“It was just in my heart, just to go ahead and do it,” Rachel remembers thinking.

A few months later, after extensive testing, Rachel was finally able to share her amazing news with Julie. She and another coworker surprised Julie at work with a cake that said, “Take my spare.” Julie couldn’t believe her good fortune when she learned her lifesaver was standing right in front of her!

Julie and Rachel had surgeries in October 2022. Both recovered well, and Julie is beyond thankful for the life-saving gift of a healthy kidney. Naturally, they decided to name the kidney “Angela!”

“So, Angela is doing well and we both are doing well,” Julie said with a laugh.

Julie says Rachel is her “hero,” and she’s beyond grateful for the incredible gift of life. Rachel seemed to just know in her heart that helping Rachel was her destiny. These two have moved well beyond mere coworker status; now they’re family!

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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