MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — A Hudson woman with end-stage renal failure will receive a kidney transplant next month, thanks to a generous stranger she met in a Target store parking lot.
Gail Weisberg, 66, was sitting in her car waiting for her curbside pick-up order last summer when a woman approached her Nissan and knocked on the window.
Debbie Munley, of Marlborough, had seen the sign on Weisberg’s car: “Wanna be an angel for an angel? [Best friend] needs a kidney.”
“I happened to see that sign. And I’m like, ‘Best friend needs a kidney.’” Munley said. “And I’m like, ‘Hmm, I can do that.’ I thought twice about it, like, ‘Is it crazy? Am I nuts?’”
Weisberg’s friend had made dozens of the signs and put them on her car and other friends’ vehicles, hoping to find a living kidney donor.
It has been a tough road for Weisberg, who has had kidney disease her whole life, and has recently battled breast cancer, had heart surgery and contracted COVID-19 in the hospital, she told Boston 25 News Thursday.
Weisberg, who has now been on the transplant list for 2.5 years, spends 10 hours each night connected to a machine doing at-home dialysis.
“I had had 45 people go on my site to try to donate, and I’ve been cancelled three times because of COVID or health concerns, and I ran out of all the people that had volunteered for me,” Weisberg said.
But when Munley offered to help, something felt different.
“She was so enthusiastic, and it just felt right,” Weisberg said. “The excitement and her willingness. It’s such a big commitment to do this for a stranger.”
For Munley, timing was everything.
“I just had a good feeling that day when I walked out,” Munley said. “I just was feeling really thankful, just because I have a roof over my head, my husband got a clean [bill of health] from prostate cancer.”
Munley and Weisberg chatted, then texted, and finally, Munley got tested. As it turns out, she was a perfect match for Weisberg and will be donating her left kidney to her new friend Feb. 15.
Munley has seen family members suffer on dialysis. Organ donation, for her, gives her already full life even more purpose.
“For me, it’s just knowing that I helped a stranger,” Munley said. “I want to pass it along. I want to let people know that you can do this.”
Weisberg, a dental hygienist for 48 years, also volunteers providing dental services abroad, including at a clinic in Honduras.
She is grateful for the life-saving gift Munley is giving her, allowing her to continue her charity work.
“I can’t even express what gratitude I can give to Debbie, because this is really saving my life,” Weisberg said. “Certainly, we’ll be in each other’s lives for our whole life. And I’ll have a part of her with me.”
The pair plan to take a limousine to Massachusetts General Hospital next month for the transplant. Recovery is expected to be six to eight weeks.
Supporters have set up a GoFundMe account to help Weisberg cover her medical expenses, including transplant medication.
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