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After 47 Years, Minn. Woman Reunites & Saves Life Of Friend

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many of us would do anything for a best friend, but one Minnesota woman owes her life to a friend who she hadn’t seen in 47 years.

Just a few months ago, Sue Halverson was living through some dark days. Rhumatic fever she suffered as a child damaged her heart. In 2011 Sue underwent a heart transplant. Afterwards, doctors told her more devastating news: her kidneys were also failing.

“I couldn’t believe it, I said you’ve got to be wrong,” said Halverson.

Desperate for help, Halverson’s daughter, Molly, made a plea on her CaringBridge site.

Her message read, “So today I am doing something I never thought I would ever have to do…I am asking for a donor. I am not sure if any of you have ever thought of it before or if you would ever consider it.”

More than 15,000 people have visited Halverson’s page, including former classmate Martha McManus.

“I’ve been following her progress since her heart transplant,” McManus said. “I read they needed a donor and I thought, I’m going to test to see if I’m a match. I could give her a live kidney because I have two.”

Their friendship began more than 50 years ago in a Montevideo kindergarten classroom. In 1966, the two graduated and went their separate ways. McManus followed per passion and traveled around the world helping others, she now lives in Calgary in Canada. Halverson made a home in Minnetonka.

“I’ve only seen Sue maybe three or four times since high school graduation,” Martha said.

Two weeks after the plea for help, the two former classmates reunited at Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis. Final tests confirmed: the surgery would happen.

“She said we have no negatives, we’re a match. I looked at the e-mail and said ‘oh my gosh!’” Halverson said from her hospital room. “I mean, it’s like you can’t believe this is going to happen. You just can’t and it did.”

“It’s just amazing that Martha stepped up to the plate and actually did it. I knew she would when she said she would, but I am just so thankful.”

The transplant was a success. McManus’ family said they’ll give her a hero’s welcome when she gets back to Canada.

“It’s a gift for me too, to have the chance to do this. The reason I’m so excited by it is because it’s a gift that has a lot of impact for the recipient and not at a big cost at all for the donor,” McManus explained. “I don’t think I realized how it’d be a gift that’s easy to give and significant, too.”

Halverson hopes to go home over the weekend. The overwhelming sense of thanks is hard to put into words.

“I can’t explain it, what I feel. I think Martha knows. It’s just incredible. It’s the biggest gift you can give. It’s just amazing,” said Halverson.

Right now, 117,000 people are waiting for working organs, like kidneys or a liver.

For more information about kidney transplants or becoming a donor, you can talk to your doctor, or click here.

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