NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey man got a second and third chance at life thanks to two organ transplants and the latest procedure has brought his family even closer together.
John Scheuermann, of Bergen County, lived to watch his children grow after receiving a heart transplant 14 years ago while battling heart disease, but when his kidneys started to fail, he wasn’t sure he’d get another chance at life.
But, he did, thanks to his stepdaughter.
Scheuermann’s biological children were not a blood-type match, disqualifying them from donating, but when his stepdaughter, Staci Walby, heard the news she didn’t hesitate to step up.
“I was blessed with my daughter, who volunteered,” Scheuermann said.
Scheuermann and his wife discussed Walby’s offer at length.
“He said to me, ‘but it’s your daughter, aren’t you worried?’ And I said ‘I’m scared to death but what’s the alternative?'” Donna Scheuermann said.
Walby, a determined wife and mother of two, underwent a series of tests to ensure compatibility. There was a hitch, she had to lose 35 pounds before doctors would operate.
“I took up bike riding and I rode 5, 6 sometimes 7 days a week,” Walby said.
With the weight dropped, and surgery scheduled, the group made the drive from New Jersey to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center for what the family dubbed the “Great Kidney Swap.”
Donna Scheuermann said she was praying the entire time as both were wheeled into surgery.
“I’m talking to God, and I’m just saying ‘You can’t let this go wrong on so many levels. I cannot lose my daughter and if anything were to happen to her, he would never forgive himself,'” she said.
Thankfully, everything went right.
“What was the moment like when you got to see him for the first time after surgery?” Denis asked Walby.
“So much relief,” Walby said.
Scheuermann’s body accepted the kidney.
“It’s just a phenomenal act of unselfishness and love and you just can’t say thank you enough,” Scheuermann said.
Walby is still recovering, but has returned to her normal upbeat self.
“If I had another kidney and someone else needed it, I would do it again,” Walby said.
And the woman who brought them together was given the chance to make more memories with two people she loves.
“I’m very proud of her,” Donna Scheuermann said.
John said he’s looking forward to seeing his grandchildren get married one day and growing old with his wife.