HOLLAND, Mich.-- A mother of three from St. Joseph got the worst news of her life when her doctor told her she needed a new kidney, but would only be compatible with 11 percent of donors. Then just when she needed it most, a man she had never met changed her life.
Jodie Harger has Type 1 diabetes which has caused her kidneys to nearly fail, causing her to be on dialysis. Her chances of finding a kidney donor were slim. Harger knew she could spend up to seven years on the donor list and that during that time, everything could go wrong.
“I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be around for much, to see grandkids or anything like that," Harger tells FOX 17. "I thought that this was going to be the end of me, basically. I really did."
Harger was put on disability, which kept her from working. She and her husband Paul had to move their family to Florida for specialized care. They were starting to feel desperate to find a kidney donor, so they asked for help on Facebook.
A woman in Holland named Carmen Hall who used to work with Paul at Home Depot, saw their post and knew she had to try to help.
“It was heartbreaking to see it day after day, week after week, pleading for help and no response," Carmen tells FOX 17.
She soon found out that Harger and Carmen's husband Jason, who is an Iraq War veteran and father of five, had the same blood type. They quickly ordered a test to see if he would be a compatible donor and two weeks later, they learned the results. Harger immediately called her husband to share the news.
“I said ‘Jason is a match,’ and he just, it was dead silence between us," Harger says. "I’m bawling and then I hear him start to cry and it was just amazing news to get, amazing. I can’t even tell you how wonderful that news was.”
Though he had never met her, Jason didn't think twice about giving her his kidney.
“It’s not a duty or an obligation," Jason tells FOX 17. "It’s just people being people, you know. Helping other people out."
In January, the Harger's and Hall's will travel to New Orleans for the procedure. If all goes well, Harger will be able to return to work. She says she's grateful for the opportunities she'll have in life, thanks to Jason's generosity.
“I just want to be around to see my kids have kids and Jason has given me that opportunity," Harger tells FOX 17.
The worry isn't over for Harger, though. The average kidney transplant costs over $250,000 and she says her health insurance won't cover all the costs. To donate to her Generosity page, click here.