Kidney Cousins

  • Published
  • 927th Air Refueling Wing

Scrolling through Facebook, a 927th Air Refueling Wing Honorary Commander, Debbie Lundberg saw a shared post that changed both the lives of Debra Palmer and herself. 

    Lundberg and Palmer have only met a few times throughout the years from being active in the community and from being part of the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce. 

    “Debra had shared a post on Facebook called “Debra’s Kidney Transplant Journey” so I go to the page and was instantly intrigued,” said Lundberg. “Being a life coach, I wanted to see what I can do to help Debra along this journey. Being a donor didn’t initially cross my mind,”

    Since Lundberg first saw Palmer’s post, they ran into each other a few times at community events. Due to the nature of the situation, however, Lundberg wanted to talk to Palmer in private about her journey. 

    It was at a holiday function in December of 2019 when Lundberg and Palmer were both seated at the same table that Lundberg approached Palmer.

    “We were seated at a round table with people between us and I kept trying to get her attention but failed,” said Lundberg. “Finally, we talked about doing an event in February called ‘Dining with Debs.’ That’s when we spoke about her journey and the difficulty she has been having with this process.”

    Palmer for the past 25 years has lived with kidney failure. She is in need of a transplant but the stats are not in her favor. There were no matches in her family and the wait for a donor from the donor list was going to be years.

    The outlook, unless I had a live donor, would be at least three and a half to four more years,” said Palmer. Its a weird situation. How do you ask people for an organ?”

    After hearing this Lundberg purchased a blood type test on amazon on a whim to see if she would even be eligible.

    “I took the test and found out I was an A+ blood type, I called Debra to tell her the news,” said Lundberg. “I had no idea the extensive tests that I would undergo just to see if I was a match.”

    With a probability of only 1 in 100,000 of a stranger being a match, Lundberg underwent a blood test, tissue testing, kidney function tests and much more. Despite the odds being against her, it turned out she was a perfect match for Palmer. When the Debs undergo surgery August 6, and with a recovery time of about four to six weeks they’ll no longer be colleagues but now kidney cousins.