This Good Samaritan honoured her New Year’s resolution to “save a life” – by donating one of her kidneys to a person she’d found online.
Jessica Morris (30), from California, US, had decided she wanted 2018 to be the year in which she would give her life “purpose”.
“I’ve wanted to donate [a kidney] for a long time, and I’d been looking for a while – but it remained just an idea that I wanted to do rather than actually seriously going through with it,” Jessica says.
“It’s easy to say you’ll do something; it’s another thing altogether to follow through with it. So on New Year’s, I made the decision to actually go through with it.”
As soon as the clock struck 12 on December 31, 2017, the surgical technician began browsing the internet in search of a worthwhile cause.
Soon she found herself on the page of a Facebook group called Kidney Donors Network, where she stumbled upon an ad on classified ads site Craigslist, posted by a man in desperate need of a life-saving kidney transplant.
Jessica reached out to the man, David Nichere (30), from San Francisco, US, who’d been suffering from end-stage kidney failure for more than six years.
He was weeks away from entering a hospice to see out the rest of his days with dialysis treatment, and Jessica says he was somewhat sceptical of her anonymous pledge to try to save his life.
But all that changed when they met for the first time four months later.
“I was pretty straightforward with David [when I messaged him],” Jessica says. “He probably thought I was weird – he was sceptical and hopeful, but you can tell he was refusing to get too excited about it.
“Donation is a tough process, and it’s extremely hard to be approved for the operation. Patients on dialysis like David are very beaten up and used to being let down. This was apparent throughout my entire testing period.
“It didn’t sink in for David that his life was really about to change until he got the call to schedule surgery.
“I saw a different side of David in the hospital. He really is an amazing person, I’m so happy I was able to help him.”
David, who had his first operation at just three months old, had endured 26 procedures and a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease before doctors told him his kidneys could no longer function.
Facing the reality of a slow death, the freelance writer decided to have one final throw of the dice by posting an ad for a kidney donor on Craigslist – and, miraculously, it landed in Jessica’s lap.
Jessica and David are both recovering well from the procedure. She hopes one day they’d be able to experience their mutual love of backpacking together.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t think either of us got super-emotional about it until the day of surgery when we realised nobody was going to tell us no [we couldn’t go through with it].
“David has become like a brother to me. In the hospital, it felt as if he was my twin – it was so cool to recover together and share our experiences. He’ll always be a part of my family and I’ll always be a part of his.
“David’s kidney function went up immediately and continues to improve. The recovery period is supposed to be six weeks off work. I took 10 days.
“I have a very high threshold for pain, so I was up and walking three days after the operation. I’ve been on two backpacking trips in the past month and I’m only four months post-op.” Jessica says helping to save David has been a life-changing experience.
“I’ve donated to charities in the past and fostered dogs, but I never felt I was making enough of a difference,” she says.
“To know I was literally able to save someone’s life will stay with me for the rest of mine – I would do it again a million times over.
“We’re all seeking a purpose in life, and you’ll never find one more rewarding than being someone’s hero. I was so happy to be able to help him.”