Macon woman’s nearly 3-year quest for new kidney finds happy ending in Oklahoma

jkovac@macon.comMay 12, 2013 

Christina Stonecypher is seen in a 2012 file photograph with her husband, John. Stonecypher received a donor’s kidney at an Atlanta hospital Friday morning.

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Christina Stonecypher found her new kidney on the Internet.

OK, it found her.

Her plea for a donor on a website for transplant candidates caught the eye of a woman in Oklahoma.

Stonecypher, 26, and the woman became friends online last fall.

“Someone in her life had kidney issues and she couldn’t help them,” said Stonecypher, who lives in Macon. “She said my profile just stood out to her.”

Stonecypher’s profile mentioned how after her kidneys failed in June 2010 -- doctors don’t know why -- she and her husband, John, knew that for them to ever have children she would need a donated kidney.

Stonecypher’s condition forced her to spend 10 hours a night hooked to a dialysis machine in her bedroom.

“So, here I am,” her profile read, “asking you, a complete stranger, to help me the way I have always tried to help others. Can YOU be the one who helps us to have a family?”

Her story was featured in a Telegraph article last spring, prompting some locals to get in touch with Stonecypher, hoping to help.

The article also inspired an oddball or two. One man, certain he was a match after reading the story, called the paper wanting to donate his, um, liver.

A few creeps online, on a medical website message board that caters to potential transplant patients, were worse.

They were trolling for dates.

“They asked about my profile picture, not my kidney,” Stonecypher said. “I kindly explained to them that was the picture from my wedding.”

But then in October the woman in Oklahoma, also named Christina, ran across Stonecypher’s profile. Before long, the woman, 37, underwent tests to see if one of her kidneys might be a match for Stonecypher.

In November, Stonecypher got a call at Macon’s Northminster Presbyterian Church, where she is an administrative assistant. It was her new friend, her prospective donor.

“I expected the hospital to call me, but she beat them to it,” Stonecypher said.

The donor was a match.

“But I never had that big blowout emotional moment, because we still had to make sure she was healthy enough to be a donor,” Stonecypher said.

In January, the donor -- after a battery of tests to make sure she and Stonecypher were as compatible as could be -- learned she had early-stage cervical cancer, which has since been treated.

“She says it saved her life,” Stonecypher said.

The donor’s kidney was implanted in Stonecypher at an Atlanta hospital Friday morning. If all goes well, Stonecypher will return home Monday.

In the hours before the operation, waiting in her Atlanta hotel room, she reflected on her nearly three-year quest to find a suitable donor.

Stonecypher said it was hard to explain what was going through her mind.

But she couldn’t wait for the surgery, for perhaps the beginning of the end of her medical odyssey, for everything to be “tied up in a pretty little package.”

“I imagine the emotions will hit then,” she said.

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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