NORTON SHORES, Mich. -- A week after donating a kidney to her mother-in-law, Abbey Sladick is at home recovering, thankful for a successful surgery at Mercy Health Saint Marys.
“I know each day I’ll get stronger and seeing [my mother-in-law] Cheryl get stronger is an inspiration,” she told FOX 17 News.
The two women saw each other Tuesday for the first time since leaving the hospital.
"[It's] like night and day," said Sladick. "She looks amazing. It’s just wonderful to see that life back in her now and the energy and excitement.”
FOX 17 first featured the women last week before the transplant surgeries. Abbey, who celebrated her one year wedding anniversary in June, began the process of being tested to learn if she was a match for her mother-in-law Cheryl six months ago.
Cherly Sladick has spent nearly three years undergoing dialysis for twelve hours a week. She became sick about a year after Abbey and her son Neil began dating. A rare, autoimmune disease called Goodpasture syndrome basically wiped out her kidneys. Doctors told her that she would need dialysis for the rest of her life, unless she received a kidney transplant.
"Right from the very start, Abbey said 'I'll be tested,'" Cherly Sladick recalled. "But I never thought she would match me. Never."
She passed the first hurdle, when doctors told Abbey that she had the same blood type: A positive.
"And then there were more tests and more tests, and it turns out we're a five out of six antigen match, which is basically one of the best matches you can get."
"The doctors actually thought we were biological mother and daughter... All the pieces just kept falling into place, and so I knew it was just meant to be," Abbey said.
Sladick said she received more confirmation that it was meant to be when she woke up after surgery and learned the kidney started working immediately.
“She gave me the best kidney ever, because it started working right away. And it has not stopped working. It’s worked non-stop," Cheryl said. "I'm amazed that she did it, but that's the kind of person Abbey is. She's such a giving, loving person. I wouldn't expect anything different from her."
The two still face weeks of recovery, but are grateful for the experience.
“It hasn’t been a cake walk, by any means, but it was completely worth it," Abbey explained. "And Cheryl’s husband Terry asked me if I would do it again, and I absolutely would do it again. There is no question.”
To follow along with the women's journey on Abbey's blog, click here.
To learn more about organ donation, click here.