An Illinois man’s past came back to help him when a former high school classmate volunteered to donate her kidney to his 2-year-old son who was in need of a transplant.
Ryan Wagner and Ashley Wagner took to their Facebook page "Team Ryan Strong" to ask if anyone would be interested in donating to their son - and their wish was granted.
Ashley found out she was pregnant in December 2013. A week later, Ryan was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. The pair created the page to document his journey and garnered tons of support.
But, they couldn’t have expected that when their son Miles was born, he’d have a battle of his own.
At 2 months old, the child had a seizure and doctors told the couple that due to a genetic disease, primary hyperoxaluria, Miles’ kidney and liver were failing and he’d need a transplant.
“We juggled chemotherapy for Ryan and dialysis for Miles,” Ashley told InsideEdition.com.
Thankfully at one year old, Miles received a liver transplant from a deceased donor. But his need for a kidney eventually became pressing, so the couple reached out to the community of mostly strangers that had already provided so much.
Ashley posted a status on the page asking, “Is it on your bucket list to save a life?
“We were getting desperate to find a donor,” Ashley said.
Elizabeth Wolodkiewicz, a former high school classmate of Ryan, messaged the family and said she wanted to go through the process find out if she was a match.
“We hadn’t talked for 13 years since I had graduated,” Ryan told InsideEdition.com.
“We were cautiously optimistic. We were of course hoping that it would work out, but we also didn’t want to get disappointed if it didn’t work out,” Ashley said.
But it did work out, and on Monday, Wolodkiewicz and Miles went through a successful surgery and are both doing well.
“She didn’t really know us," Ashley said. "She’d never met our child. For her to be committed to the process and I think we were both blown away. It’s like Miles knows they have a special connection."
Ryan said his son’s journey has also encouraged him in his own battle.
“I’ve been through 71 rounds of chemo which is more than my doctor has ever seen before. [Miles] has really pushed me harder just seeing a little kid like this and he is always so happy,” Ryan said.
He added: “It inspired me to be like I may be fighting this battle, but at the same time he is fighting his own battle. Yet he can be happy with everything that’s happening, so it inspired me to just be happy and appreciate the time we have together."