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Tulsa Waitress Gives Kidney To Stranger Who Had 'Death Sentence'

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Picture of Susie Barnes. Picture of Susie Barnes.
And Kelly Peterman, waitress, showed why she's so good at being Kelly Peterman, human being. And Kelly Peterman, waitress, showed why she's so good at being Kelly Peterman, human being.
That day last summer she needed a Ron's hamburger, she'd just been told her kidneys were dying. That day last summer she needed a Ron's hamburger, she'd just been told her kidneys were dying.
The doctors could schedule the operation at any time, but right now it looks like maybe mid-April at Integris Hospital in Oklahoma City. The doctors could schedule the operation at any time, but right now it looks like maybe mid-April at Integris Hospital in Oklahoma City.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

It's easy to think the world is filled with nastiness and nay-sayers--and then you meet Kelly Peterman.

Kelly Peterman's good at her waitress job. She can read the cues of her customers: who's up, who's down. Not every waitress can, or cares to.

She was really good at it one early summer day last year when Susie Barnes stopped in at Ron's Hamburger's, hungry and hurting.

"One day I just had to have a Ron's hamburger. I just had to," Susie said.

And Kelly Peterman, waitress, showed why she's so good at being Kelly Peterman, human being.

"She just, you could just see, you could read her face, anyone could, you could just see she looked devastated in a way and just really sad," Kelly said.

"I said I needed a kidney," Susie said.

"So I said, ‘well give me some paperwork and let's do some blood tests and see where we go from there,'" Kelly said.

Suzie couldn't believe what she was hearing. But Kelly thought nothing of it.

"I didn't really think about it to be honest with you. It's just that's what my heart, that's just what came out," she said.

Suzie's kidneys never developed past adolescent size, and are failing. Have been for two years. She's on a transplant list, facing the eventual dismal drudgery of dialysis.

That day last summer she needed a Ron's hamburger, she'd just been told her kidneys were dying.

"Oh, it's devastating, it's devastating, you just feel like, it is like a death sentence, you just absolutely are devastated," Suzie said.

And then order pad in hand, an angel appeared at her table.

"If you've got something someone else can use, whether it's blood, plasma, an organ, and you can give it, do it. Why not? Kelly said.

All the pre-operative testing has come off flawlessly, and now they're just waiting for the doctors to pull the trigger.

And becoming the fast friends that come from fate's tying two lives together with surgeon's sutures.

"It's an unbelievable story," Suzie remarked. With one other dash of human kindness tossed in.

Kelly didn't want to talk about it with a camera in her face. She thought she'd start crying. But, she can't have children of her own, and by giving away a kidney, she feels like she's passing along life. It's in a different way to be sure, but life just the same.

"I guess it was just fate. I had to have a burger that day, and there she was. There she was," Suzie said.

"We're always going to be friends from now on because of everything we've gone through together and with or without my kidney she'll always be in my heart," Kelly said.

With apologies to the Golden Arches, around Ron's they've taken to calling it the Ultimate Happy Meal--burger, fries and a kidney.

The doctors could schedule the operation at any time, but right now it looks like maybe mid-April at Integris Hospital in Oklahoma City.

The family that owns Ron's is working to set up a fund to help pay Kelly's expenses when she's recovering.

You'll be able to contribute at the restaurant.

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