Man receives kidney from his dental office's receptionist

Posted at 8:18 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-22 21:29:26-05

Judy Sommerfeld is a receptionist at Clemence Dental Office in Hales Corners. Jeffrey Eckrich has had his teeth cleaned there for years.

"Judy asked, 'How are you doing?' I said 'well, my donor we had hoped was going to be able to donate was unable to,'" Eckrich said.

He needed a kidney transplant, and Judy stepped up.

"If they can't donate, I would like to see if I could," she said.

Dr. Ajay Sahajpal of Aurora Health Care said finding a match can take time, "and then just because you're a match doesn't mean you're a suitable donor. There's also a whole lot of health issues you got to jump through and hoops to make sure you're suitable for donating."

After a very thorough physical, Judy learned she could donate a kidney to Jeff.

"I had a strong, I can't explain it inside me.. a strong faith," she said. "I knew it was what I was supposed to do."

One year after their conversation at the dental office, they were rolled into surgery at Aurora St. Luke's.

"I think she was much more bubbly about it than I was," Jeff said. "I was a little bit nervous I think is a fair way to put it."

The surgery went well, and now Jeff has not only a new kidney, but a new family member as well.

"It's turned out to be a great relationship. I never had a younger sibling and now I have a younger sister."

He said the hardest part has been trying to find a way to say thank you.

"Why would someone who I know on a casual basis want to go through what she was going through to give me a kidney?" he wondered.

He said he turns to his faith when he tries to find an answer, "There are angels walking among us. I feel it in the heart."

For more information about Aurora Health Care's Transplant Services visit their website.

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