Chat in Workplace Bathroom May Have Saved 2 Men's Lives

Co-workers Susan Ellis and Tia Wimbush each gave up one of their own kidneys
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2021 1:12 PM CDT
Co-Workers With Sick Husbands Do the Ultimate Swap
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Shannon Fagan)

A chance conversation in a workplace restroom led to a happy ending for two men in desperate need of new kidneys. That meeting took place in August 2020 in a bathroom at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Co-workers Susan Ellis and Tia Wimbush had learned in 2019 that their husbands had gone into renal failure just days apart and needed kidney transplants. But it was when they bumped into each other in the restroom last summer and started catching up, lamenting about the long donor wait, that they had what Southern Living calls their "lightbulb moment": the realization that Ellis had the same blood type (AB) as Wimbush's husband, Rodney, and Wimbush had the same blood type (O) as Ellis' husband, Lance. "That's when we both knew: We had to get tested," Wimbush tells the Washington Post, adding to Good Morning America: "My thought immediately was that we could help each other and stop the suffering of two families."

After undergoing those tests to ensure compatibility, the surgeries were scheduled to transfer the kidneys to the two men, both on dialysis and in search of an organ donor since August 2019 (Lance Ellis had received one of his mother's kidneys years back, but his body ultimately rejected it). The procedures ended up being postponed twice—once after Lance Ellis developed blood clots, and once after Susan Ellis came down with COVID—but they finally took place on March 19 at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. The surgeries went well, and now, nearly four months later, both men are doing A-OK, once more going on hikes and taking part in other activities. As for whether or not the couples are friends now, Tia Wimbush tells the Post they've "skipped" that part: In the fall, "Susan and Lance are going to come with us to North Carolina for our son's first college football game. ... We're family now." (More uplifting news stories.)

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