Beckley woman receives gift of life, shares story in celebration of Giving Tuesday

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)- Debbie Connard likes to start her morning with a cup of coffee on her porch. For several years, it was one of the only things she could do while sitting at home, weak from battling kidney disease and going through dialysis.

“Dialysis is probably the most mentally and physically draining thing I’ve ever been through,” Connard recalled. “I was on a machine for 9 and a half hours a night doing dialysis, I couldn’t remember words.”

Connards Kidneys functioned at 20% for almost 2 and a half years while she remained on a waiting list for a new kidney. The seemingly endless wait left her sitting on her porch, begging for the answer her body desperately needed.

“I just talked to God, and I said ‘I don’t know how much longer I can live like this Lord,’I didn’t ask him for a kidney,” Connard said.

But, a kidney is exactly what she would receive. Two weeks after praying, she got a call from Charleston Area Medical Center telling her to come in.

Little did she know, that call would save her life.

“They called my husband and I into the back and said, ‘we have a live donor for you,'” Connard recalled. ” I still get chills to this day.”

Connard was matched with Charleston native Bruce Turner who was at a good, healthy point in his life and wanted to give back.The two met before the transplant on June 8, 2018.

“I just kept saying ‘thank you,’ and to this day I refer to Bruce as my hero,” Connard stressed.

Connard wasn’t just gifted with a healthy kidney, she also received the gift of friendship…speaking to Bruce regularly on the phone.

“Sometimes I think ‘wow, that’s something I really did I made a difference in someone’s life,'” Turner told 59 News while on the phone with Connard. “I still get a little emotional about it too actually.”

Debbie is now able to do things she once couldn’t. She recently went on a cruise with her family and grandkids. No matter where she goes, Bruce will always be a part of her..in fact..it is now her new kidney’s special name.

“I just walk around and I pat him, ” Connard laughed. “Bruce is with me..I mean hey yes I named my Kidney Bruce!”

Bruce Turner’s organ donation was possible after contacting the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) to become a potential donor.

For more information you can head over to their website.

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