A Michigan single father received the kidney donation he so desperately needed, thanks to his girlfriend’s teen daughter, who spread the word by driving around with a sign hung on her car.
Last summer, now-19-year-old Lilian Jarjour had a sign on her car that read, "Single dad of 3 needs kidney, type O."
On Wednesday, her mom’s boyfriend Ryan Stanford and his kidney donor, who wanted to stay anonymous, were reunited at Henry Ford Hospital at Detroit for their checkup after the transplant.
“It feels amazing to know it worked,” Jarjour, who is now studying to become a medical assistant at Carnegie Institute, told InsideEdition.com. “I was very shocked and surprised and I was really happy.”
Stanford, who has been dating her mom for nearly three years, has three kids of his own and has been dealing with polycystic kidney disease his entire life.
When it took a turn for the worse, Jarjour wanted to step in and do what she could to try to find him a donor.
“It was scary to me to see, I didn’t want to see him get any sicker. Dialysis isn’t a fun thing to be put on, so it did scare me,” Jarjour explained. “The reason why I wanted to do something like this was because he makes my mom so happy. This guy, he’s changed my mom’s world.”
Stanford said at that point, he was feeling hopeless as his health condition was deteriorating.
“I was rapidly getting worse. I was getting tired, my numbers kept coming back lower and lower, indicating my kidneys were failing, more and more,” Stanford explained. “She surprised me with taking a step to help me out. I didn’t have anything going. It looked like I had all dead ends.”
In August, Stanford received a call on his cellphone from a woman from the Detroit area, saying she had seen the story of the sign, and she’d like to get tested to see if she could be a kidney donor.
“I’ve been a blood donor for a very long time and I have a friend from high school who received a liver. I always thought that was just such a cool thing, that we were able to do that with our bodies,” she told InsideEdition.com. “And I thought if the opportunity ever arose and if there was ever anyone in my family who needed it or a friend, I certainly would.”
When she got the final approval to donate her kidney, she and her husband met up with Stanford and his girlfriend Noell Darghali over coffee.
“Noell just started crying immediately and we hugged and went in and chatted and kind of the rest is history,” she recalled.” We just ended up realizing we had a ton in common, chatting about all kinds of things and it was really fantastic to meet them.”
After the transplant, they found comfort and eased their boredom by each other’s sides, spending time at each other’s homes with their families over board games.
“We’ve both been recovering really well, very well and figured that we were able to get up and out and about,” she said. “Ryan is still quarantined, at home, but we were able to come over there and spend some time and hang out and it’s been really nice to just see how well he is responding to the surgery and how his body is behaving the way that it’s supposed to now.”
Dr. Rohini Prashar, the medical director of the Henry Ford Living Donor Kidney Transplant Program, said it is rare to see complete strangers agree to be organ donors for each other.
“The waitlist is huge. It’s 93,000 in the country and 2,300 in the state of Michigan waiting for a kidney transplant,” Prashar told InsideEdition.com. “So the only way to bridge that gap is to have more living donors come forward. That way, not only do you have the luxury of time, you also give them a better kidney.”
Prashar said most people who are physically and mentally healthy can become living donors, and other than a risk of hypertension, kidney donors can go on to lead a healthy life with minor dietary changes.
To find out more about becoming a living donor, visit their website.