Lawton, Okla._ A Walters woman is paying it forward by donating her kidney to a woman in need of a transplant even after suffering her own health scare. Christina Hesler decided to become a kidney donor several years ago after her friend's mother passed away from kidney failure. Last year, she found a woman in Georgia that needed a kidney and Hesler offered to donate hers. In a twist of fate while Hesler was in the final stages of testing to see if her kidney was a match, doctors she had cervical cancer. After her own surgery and a cancer-free diagnosis, Hesler decided to continue with her plans to donate her kidney.
Hesler, wife and mother of three, said she believes fate brought her and 26-year-old Christina Stonecypher together. Stonecypher said after both of her kidneys failed on her 24th birthday in 2010, she waited two long years on a donor list, with a lot of false hope from forty potential donors that didn't follow through. Hesler said if she hadn't agreed to donate the kidney to Stonecypher, she wouldn't have done the necessary tests that caught the cancer at such an early stage.
Hesler said within the first week of posting her donor profile on MatchingDonors.com, she received over 200 heartbreaking messages from people in need of a kidney transplant. She said Stonecypher's story stood out.
"When Christina's email came along and I read her biography. She's so young, she just graduated college, she just got married. She and her husband want to start a family but she can't because she's on dialysis. It touched my heart and my families heart," said Hesler.
Everything seemed to be going well until the very last test in January, when she heard the word that no one wants to hear...cancer.
"Whenever I was diagnosed, they called me and told me that I had cancer. The whole family was really worried. The lucky part was when I went back to the gynecologist, they found out it was stage zero. Which is great cause that's the lowest stage you can have," said Hesler.
After a successful surgery, Hesler said some cautioned her about moving forward with the kidney donation. She said her family was a constant source of support.
"It's very important for me and the kids to understand what's going on and also be supportive and not worry. She's the mother, our whole family, she doesn't want to worry the kids or anything like that," said Christina's husband Eric Hesler.
The Heslers said this twist of fate has brought them closer together; because of the "two Christinas," whose lives will forever be linked.
"I felt like I was not only trying to save Christina's life but she had basically saved mine. So I couldn't very well say oh I had a scare....I'm not going to go through with it. I mean it was her life that was on the line," said Hesler.
Stonecypher said she also believes that it was fate that brought Hesler her way. She said this experience has taught her how strong she really is. Stonecypher credits Hesler is giving her the chance to have a normal and healthy life ahead of her. Many in America will never get that opportunity. According to MatchingDonors.com, about 4500 people die a year waiting for a kidney transplant.