A Florida widow has donated a kidney to the man who received her late husband’s organs 16 years ago.
In 2004, roofer Bryan Herrington, 35, lost his life after he tragically fell from a house he was working on.
His organs went to four people, including Jeffery ‘Jeff’ Granger who received Bryan’s kidney and his pancreas.
However, that kidney began to fail one year ago, meaning Jeff, 59, needed to be placed back on dialysis.
When he learned of the news, he reached out to Bryan’s widow, Terri, 49, whom he befriended more than a decade ago.
She immediately offered to get tested to see if she was a match and, five months later, was declared to be a perfect one.
Terri Herrington, 49, donated a kidney to the same man, Jeffery ‘Jeff’ Granger, 59, who received her late husband’s organs 16 years ago. Pictured: Jeff (left) and Herrington (right) after the transplant in March 2020
Bryan Herrington, 35, died in a work-related accident after he slipped and fell off a roof. He was a registered organ donor and his heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and kidney were donated, the latter two to Granger. Pictured: Herrington, left; and with Terri on their wedding day, right
Jeff’s kidneys first started failing in 2000 after about 30 years of living with insulin-dependent diabetes. In 2004, he was told he needed a transplant.
He was placed on peritoneal dialysis so his health could improve enough to have the operation.
At the same time, he was waiting for back surgery for a herniated disc and was just getting ready to tell his physician to delay the transplant so he could have the back operation when he got the call on July 13.
They had found a match after Bryan suffered head trauma when he slipped and fell from a roof of a house he and his brother were working on.
He was an organ donor and three people received his heart, lungs and liver. Jeff received his pancreas and kidney.
After the first year, during which recipients and donor families are only supposed to interact with each other anonymously, Terri, who lives in Pensacola, sent a letter with her phone number.
Jeff called her and they hit it off right away.
‘I talked to her 45 minutes just like I’d known her all my life,’ he told DailyMail.com.
The families kept in touch for the next 15 years, be it through phone calls, social media or in-person visits.
If Terri and her two sons, Drake and Payton, were visiting her parents in Orlando, she’d make sure to drive through Wacissa and get a meal with Jeff or stay the night.
‘We would go on the boat together and there’s times [he and his wife, Pam, would] come out to the beach over here and we would spend time at the beach,’ Terri told DailyMail.com.
‘I think it’s because of our location…so I can see him more often as opposed to the other recipients, who live further away. I’m friends with them, but it’s not as close as I am with Jeff.’
One year later, Jeff and Herrington’s widow, Terri, became friends and kept in touch over the next 15 years. Pictured: Terri (left) and Jeff (right) before the procedure
In April 2019, Jeff (left and right) learned that his donated kidney was failing and told Terri about having to go back on dialysis. Terri offered to donate hers, but Jeff thought she was kidding until she decided to get tested
One afternoon, Jeff was sitting in the living room with Terri when her youngest son, Payton, then a toddler, came up to him and put his hand on Jeff’s stomach.
‘My daddy’s in there,’ he said.
‘Sure is, son, and I’m gonna keep him in there and alive as long as I can,’ Jeff replied.
In April 2019, Jeff’s donated kidney from Bryan began failing, and he called Terri to tell her the news.
Terri had wanted to become a living donor, and made the suggestion to Jeff.
‘When he told me, I was like: “You know, this is something I’ve been thinking about. Maybe you are the person I’m supposed to donate to,”‘ she said.
‘He must have thought I was kidding or whatever and he stopped talking about it.’
About a month later, in May, Jeff posted on Facebook that he was look for a kidney donor. Among the dozens of comments was Terri’s.
She wrote: ‘Did you think I was kidding?’
‘Yes! I did not take you serious[ly],’ he replied.
Terri wrote back: ‘Serious as a new kidney!’
After Jeff posted on Facebook that he was looking for a kidney donor, Terri said she was serious about offering to be the donor (pictured)
Terri was declared a perfect match and the transplant was performed in March 2020, a week before the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic. Pictured: Terri (left) with the two surgeons, Dr Kenneth Andreoni (center) and Dr Mark Johnson (right) before the procedure
After the donor’s and recipient’s blood are proven to be compatible, there are two more blood tests, according to AllinaHealth.
The first is tissue-typing, which looks at the number of antigens, or genetic markers, the donor and recipient share.
The second is cross-matching, which is to ensure the recipient will react to the new kidney.
These are followed by a physical exam, a chest X-ray, a CT scan of the abdomen, a follow-up blood test within a week of the scan, and a 24-hour urine collection.
In October 2019, Terri was declared to be a match.
Both Terri (pictured) and Jeff hope to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation
The transplant was originally scheduled for November 2019 at University of Florida Health Shands Hospital, but Jeff had a low fever that morning.
He was eventually admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and had to be off his antibiotics before the surgery could be rescheduled.
The new date was sent for March 3, a little more than a week before the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic. Neither Jeff nor Terri were worried.
‘On the day of the surgery they kept asking me if I needed a valium. I’m like: “No, I’m not the one doing the operation. You guys are. Do you need a valium?”‘ Terri said.
The procedure went off without a hitch, according to Dr Kenneth Andreoni, an associate professor and surgical director of kidney transplant at the University of Florida College of Medicine.
He told DailyMail.com that, for the average adult, a transplant will double the amount of years they will live compared to dialysis.
Andreoni said he’s never heard a story before like that of Terri and Jeff.
‘There have been many, many amazing donation events. We’ve had co-workers come in and want to be tested anonymously
‘We’ve had people within the donation program donate to patients they become friends with…but this one is truly unique, where the spouse of a deceased donor 16 years later would donate there own organs. That’ a new one to me.’
The operation wasn’t just a success in the eyes of physicians but the patients as well.
‘I woke up feeling great, like a new man,’ Jeff said.
Both have well since recovered and hope they can inspire more people to become organ donors.
‘I want people to realize that being an organ donor doesn’t cost you anything. All kidneys pink, there’s blood in all of them and everybody needs one,’ Terri said.
Jeff added: ‘You don’t have to be a living donor. but there’s no sense of putting organs in the dirt when you can save someone’s life.’
There are currently more than 110,000 patients are on the national transplant waiting list, more than 23,000 of them for a kidney transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.