When Terri Herrington donated her kidney to Jeff Granger in March, it was a process already familiar to the Florida mom, considering her late husband had done the same 16 years earlier.
Terri and Jeff’s paths first crossed in 2004, when Terri’s husband Bryan died in a tragic accident and Jeff received his pancreas and kidney in a combined transplant, according to a release from University of Florida Health.
When Jeff revealed last year that Bryan’s kidney was now failing, Terri wasted no time in volunteering her own to take its place.
“Jeff will still have Bryan’s pancreas,” she said in the release. “In a way, we’d be back together again.”
Bryan Herrington was 35 when he fell from a roof in July 2004 and died of head trauma. He was listed as an organ donor, and within hours, Jeff was among the four people who were granted a new lease on life thanks to Bryan’s generosity.
After the transplant, Jeff and his wife Pam kept in touch with Terri and her and Bryan's two sons, Drake and Payton, according to the release.
Their correspondences — which included a thank you letter and the occasional holiday card — were anonymous for the first year, as required by LifeQuest Organ Recovery Services, but were still much appreciated by the grieving Terri.
“Just hearing from them, and how much their life had changed, was a healing process for me and my boys in and of itself,” she said.
Once the year was up, Terri responded to Jeff’s messages with her phone number, which soon resulted in a lengthy phone call and a budding friendship.
Over the next 15 years, Terri, who lives in Pensacola, and Jeff, who lives in Wacissa, kept in touch with phone calls, in-person visits, and social media.
By January 2019, however, Bryan’s kidney began to fail, and when Jeff alerted Terri, she immediately responded, “Well, I’ve got one.”
He brushed it off as a joke, but after Terri once again responded to Jeff’s social media search for a donor, the plan was put in place.
“This girl was an angel. She’s a single parent, and God’s gift of a parent, too,” Jeff said. “I don’t know how I could than her, or repay her for such a wonderful, life-giving gift. It’s kind of a miracle, you know?”
The transplant surgery was scheduled for November but was postponed after Jeff contracted pneumonia, and successfully took place on March 3.
“After Bryan’s death, I had to take a different approach toward what I was going to do with the rest of my life,” said Terri, who is an ambassador for the United Network for Organ Sharing. “As we got closer to the surgery date, I had a lot of people coming up to me and asking, ‘What if you need it?’ And I said, ‘Well, what if I don’t?’”
She added that her son Payton has volunteered his own kidney should Terri need one in the future.
“We were a perfect match. Just like me and Bryan were,” said Jeff. “And I hope to stay in touch with them the rest of our lives.”
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