The gift of life: Organ donor and recipient become family

by Liz Bonis, WKRC, Wednesday, December 14th 2016

CINCINNATI (WKRC) – In the season of giving, two people who know what it means to give the gift of life were people to consider being a living organ donor.

It turns out they were a perfect match for each other. They ended up really understanding what it means to “choose life.”

A few years ago when Tom Hendrix Junior found out he needed his third kidney transplant, he thought he might find someone.

Hendrix said, “But to come up and be a perfect match was a blessing, a blessing.”

Jennie Hudson at the time was an anonymous donor who turned out to be that blessing,

When the two met after Toms successful surgery he said, “I thought one thing, I wanted to know why? And when I asked her she said, ‘Why not?’ Which just shut me down.”

Hudson said, “He became sort of instantly the only brother that I’ve ever had.”

Eventually the two became big advocates for organ donation.

Hudson said a few years later she suddenly faced a health crisis of her own. At that time what did she do? She called the only brother she’d ever known, and at that time she said she too got back the gift of life. Hudson had triple negative breast cancer that hits younger women and can be very aggressive.

When Hendrix got the word, “I told her don’t worry about it and I called Bess and let her know that I got this. She had done so much for me and didn’t even know me. The least I could do as acting brother was take care of my sister.”

“He took me to all my chemos, he took me to my surgeries, he basically was there as any family member would be. And to make sure that I was okay,” Hudson shared.

Paula Franckhauser was the transplant coordinator who brought the two perfect matches together. When she saw it come full circle she got emotional.

“It’s probably one of the greatest jobs in the world,” said Franckhauser.

“When I donated a kidney there was never any idea that this would come full circle in this way and it’s been the biggest blessing, biggest blessing of my life,” said Hudson.

Anonymous donors are hard to find, and the need is great. Both Tom and Jenny said they hope people will consider joining the national registry.


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