WWMT THREE RIVERS, Mich. —
Christmas was extra special this year for a Three Rivers woman who thought she wouldn’t be alive to celebrate it.
“I hope somebody else can have this miracle, too. It’s Christmas time again and everything just fell into place for us,” Patty Hoyt said.
One year ago, on Dec. 18, Dale Hoyt thought he would spend only a few more precious days with his wife. Patty Hoyt was experiencing kidney failure and multiple forms of dialysis treatment weren’t working. Dale and his friends resorted to making signs asking for a kidney donor. They planned to walk around busy places such as the Kalamazoo Mall, hoping someone would be willing to help.
The last-ditch effort was to call Newschannel 3.
“I didn’t know you guys were coming until we pulled in the driveway and I was almost upset because it’s not like me to do this,” Patty Hoyt said.
Patty Hoyt was uncertain about doing a story, because there are so many people on a waiting list for a kidney. According to nonprofit group Gift of Life Michigan , “more than 115,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant nationally, and a new person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. Of those on the waiting list, more than 3,000 are Michigan residents.”
“The response we got from you guys coming in, News 3 coming in, we were getting about 30 phone calls a day or more,” Dale said at the time.
First on 3: Three Rivers man searching desperately for kidney donor to help his wife on Christmas
Among those callers was a retired Kalamazoo woman, Mary Oberlee.
“I saw it on the news. It was in the morning and I thought, I could do that,” she said.
Mary Oberlee quickly rallied her biggest supporter, her husband of 43 years.
“Mary came in and said ‘I just saw this on channel 3 and she says I’ve got to check it out’ and I just kind of had a weird feeling that this was going to happen,” Sam Oberlee said.
Not long after that, Mary Oberlee was seeing doctors and getting a physical to determine if she was healthy enough to donate, which she was.
“Mary saved my wife’s life,” Dale said through tears. “Sorry, I get emotional.”
The ladies had the only dry eyes in the room when Newschannel 3 visited a few days ago. They now share an unbreakable bond.
“I was shocked. I just — why? I said why are you doing this?” Patty Hoyt said.
Mary Oberlee had a very straight forward answer.
“It was a good point in my life. I’m retired so I had the time. I thought I could do it and I thought maybe God gives us two kidneys, one to keep and one to give away,” she said.
Patty Hoyt and Mary Oberlee hope their story encourages others to consider becoming a donor.
“I would do it again, if I could,” Mary Oberlee said.
When she called the Hoyts one year ago, she did more than just save a life — she made a life-long friend.
Mary Oberlee wants people to know that your age doesn’t matter when you donate a kidney, your heath does. The donor recipient’s insurance will cover your costs and be prepared to see a doctor several times, if you are planning to become a donor.
According to the National Kidney Foundation , “people can live normal lives with only one kidney. As long as the donor is evaluated thoroughly and cleared for donation, he or she can lead a normal life after the surgery.”
For more information about how to donate, visit the website for Beaumont Royal Oak Transplantation or United Network for Organ Sharing.
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