Woman quits smoking to donate kidney to co-worker at DMV

Updated: Aug. 2, 2017 at 1:48 PM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Caroline County woman who was in kidney failure was given the gift of a lifetime in June by her co-worker: a kidney.

Freida Booth-Pitts works at the North Henrico branch of the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. She has worked there for 23 years. In 2015, Booth-Pitts started not feeling well.

"I started getting really fatigued and having different medical issues," Booth-Pitts said. "The gout was the biggest thing."

Booth-Pitts went to the doctor and received several tests. One of those tests showed her creatinine level was "off the charts." She was in kidney failure and needed to immediately go on dialysis and/or receive a kidney transplant.

Disheartened, Booth-Pitts started telling people at work about her medical troubles.

"Sondra spoke up and said I'll be tested," Booth-Pitts said. "That was over lunch one day."

Sondra Bloxom, who has worked at the DMV for 13 years and has known Booth-Pitts for about 10, wanted to see if she could donate her kidney.

"When she told me she needed a kidney, I was like, 'Okay, I have two," Bloxom said. "I only need one, and if I can help her, I'd be more than happy to do so."

Bloxom was tested and found to be a perfect match - so perfect, doctors said they were surprised she wasn't family. But then, the unthinkable: Bloxom was denied after a breathing test.

"I needed to do a breathing test so they could see how my lung function was," Bloxom said. "I smoked at the time, and they denied me because of that."

Doctors didn't want to risk putting Bloxom under anesthesia for six to eight hours.

"You get that close, and then all of the sudden, something pulls you back," Booth-Pitts said.

After the denial, Booth-Pitts said she had others come forward to see if they were matches, but they were not.

Booth-Pitts was forced to start peritoneal kidney dialysis while waiting for a transplant. At another check-up, Booth-Pitts found out she had an aneurism in the aortic valve of her heart. She had emergency surgery. During that surgery, another vein In her heart collapsed. Meanwhile, Bloxom decided to quit smoking, secretly.

Months later, Bloxom was re-tested and approved to donate her kidney. She surprised her friend and co-worker at work with the news.

The surgery happened on June 5, and despite the fact that Booth-Pitts is still healing, she says she feels wonderful and her prognosis is good.

According to Donate Life Virginia, there are 3200 people in Virginia waiting for an organ right now, and 8000 people pass away each year waiting for organs. If you want to find out more information about organ donation, visit Donate Life Virginia at: https://www.donatelifevirginia.org/ 

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