Veteran’s Day is typically a day spent focusing on the sacrifice made by soldiers in past wars. But this year, a 15-year old Columbia, S.C. girl will remember Veteran’s Day as the time when a current solider saved her life, according to a report by Noelle Phillips at the Columbia State newspaper.
Dani Jones of Columbia received a donated kidney at the Medical University of South Carolina from Cp. Ryan Fackey of Hamilton, Ohio earlier this week after being diagnosed with kidney failure after a lifetime of steroid use to treat aftereffects of myelofibrosis, a rare disease that disrupts the body’s ability to develop red blood cells. Jones underwent a lifesaving bone-marrow transplant at the age of 3 and has been dealing with side effects ever since.
The list of medical problems Dani has dealt with over the years is extensive: kidney failure, two leg surgeries, diabetes, cataract surgery, growth deficiency and seizures. Doctors expect the transplant to give her a normal life expectancy and to cure her diabetes, said her mother, Paula Wilson. Jones and Fackey had never met before but friends and family of the 21-year old Marine told the paper this act of generosity is typical for the F-18 fighter jet mechanic who was influenced by his experience in Iraq. Fackey spent a lot of time around the Iraqi people. While patrolling the streets, he would see dozens of children begging for candy and attention from the Marines.
Sometimes, they would show scars. Some had missing limbs. He doesn’t know if those wounds were caused by the U.S. military or someone else.
“After I got back, I started looking for other ways to give,” Fackey told the newspaper.
Fackey isn’t sure what made him look into organ donation but he said he is a fan of medical dramas and loves to roam Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, reading about different subjects.
“I thought I was making a difference in Iraq,” the 21-year old Fackey told the Columbia. He is an FA-18 fighter jet mechanic at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.”I’m making a difference now. I like making life-changing decisions.”
Donors like Fackey are rare in South Carolina, said Lucia Miles, MUSC’s transplant coordinator for living donors. They are called “Good Samaritan” donors because they are giving to a person they have no previous relationship with.
In 2008, 171 people received new kidneys at MUSC, the state’s only transplant center. Of those, 36 were from living donors. And only one of those donors was a “Good Samaritan,” Miles said.
.As both Jones and Fackey prepped for surgery on Veteran’s Day, the paper reported Dani paid a quick visit to her new friend.
She hugged Fackey and said, “I really do appreciate this.”
Combined, the two surgeries lasted about six hours. Both patients made it through without complications.
Dani, a Dreher High School sophomore, plans to go to college and maybe open her own nail salon
Visit the State’s photo slideshow to witness the journey!
Check out MUSC Transplant Facebook page to hear what others are saying!
Watch WCSC’s news segment below about Ryan’s amazing contribution!