A gift worth giving: Teacher saves soldier with kidney donation
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Somewhere deep inside ourselves is something we didn't know was there. For a Louisville woman, it's an incredible gift given to a stranger that has not only changed his life, but saved it.
Terry Roberts can tell you a few reasons that his story touched her, but mostly she just feels like it was her calling to help.
Roberts donated a kidney to that man this summer, but she's so modest that some of her closest friends didn't even know about it until she decided that maybe others could learn from her gift. Her principal at Presentation Academy, Barbara Wine, wasn't surprised when Terry came to her to ask about giving more than just a lesson.
"She always is there to volunteer to do whatever is needed," Wine said.
This time Roberts wanted to give a gift - a kidney to a man who was running out of time.
"Both of them have completely failed at this point so we rely on dialysis seven days a week," said Army Specialist Daniel Ruckel in a December 2012 story shown on WAVE 3 News.
Ruckel suffered a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan and the pain relievers he took badly damaged his kidneys.
"We've got everything in the world that we could possibly want except for our health, but we're fighting," Ruckel said in that story.
When Roberts saw his story, she just knew.
"Honestly it was a physical feeling that this was something that I should do," she said.
Roberts can't say exactly what it was that brought it on, part patriotism and part personal.
"I guess it was just the right story, something about it," said Roberts. "He was in the military and we have friends who are in the military. The kidney transplant ... my mom and brother both died from cancer and my mom was lucky enough to get a bone marrow transplant."
After discussing it with her boss, her husband and their 16, 14 and 9 year old children, Roberts contacted the University of Kentucky Kidney Transplant office and found out she was a match. Her surgery was in July and we may not have heard about it except for her proud big sister, Jamie Beach, who felt like Terry's gift needed to be shared and learned from.
"People can do it," Beach said. "Regular, old, ordinary folks out there who don't think they can make a difference in the world can make a big difference in one individual's life."
So even though Roberts is not comfortable with the limelight, she hopes the light she's shedding on organ donation will shine from others as well.
"Maybe a little discomfort is involved but you could save somebody's life," said Roberts. "How can you turn that down?"
Roberts said Ruckel's family gave her a card and a small photo album, but at this point he's not asked to meet her. Roberts told us she respects his decision and as a family member of several people who have received kidneys from other donors, she believes she understands what it means to the Ruckel family.