A Perfect Match: Tulsa Waitress, Customer Doing Well After Kidney Transplant


Thursday, October 3rd 2013, 9:24 pm
By: News On 6


Last year, we introduced you to Kelly Peterman, a waitress at a Tulsa Ron's Hamburgers restaurant, who made a split-second decision to help a stranger.

Kelly offered one of her kidneys to Susie Barnes, who'd stopped at Ron's just after getting the news that her own kidneys were failing. More than two years after their fateful meeting, and lots of bumps in the road along the way, that kidney has saved a life, and cemented a friendship.

Kelly Peterman's back on the job, still taking care of her customers at Ron's Hamburgers. In that regard, nothing's changed.

In fact, the only change since we met Kelly in January 2012, is that she's down a kidney. And she couldn't be more pleased about that.

"I don't know how to explain it but it's just one of the coolest bonds, neatest scar and the coolest bond I'd ever had with anybody, really," Kelly said.

That bond, that shared scar, is with Susie Barnes, who stopped in for a hamburger in the summer of 2011, just after being told her kidneys were failing and she'd need a transplant.

And an angel with an order pad appeared alongside her table.

2/29/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Waitress Gives Kidney To Stranger Who Had 'Death Sentence'

"That's how it started. I smiled at her, she smiled at me and I said, 'What's the matter?' And she'd gotten devastating news that day. Because I asked, you know? I'm glad that I did," Kelly said.

The transplant operation didn't happen until this past January, about 20 months after Kelly's split-second lunch-time offer of one of her kidneys to a stranger.

The night before the surgery, Susie was puffy and swollen with fluid her dying kidneys couldn't remove from her body. The kidney began working 35 seconds after it was transplanted into her.

"I think the minute I knew it, was whenever I actually looked in the mirror and saw that I had color in my face for the first time in a long time," Susie said.

This summer, Susie was able to take a vacation trip with her husband for the first time in eight years. She's no longer tired all the time. She feels good again.

"It just couldn't have happened any better, it just couldn't have gone any better," Susie said.

And Kelly's never second-guessed her decision to help out a stranger--a stranger who has become a dear friend, linked by the neatest of scars.

"The best payment I can get back from her, that's the best thank you, is to see her living and loving and laughing, because really, you know, that's what life is about, really. I mean if you're not livin' and laughin', you're sittin' here existing," Kelly said.

The match was a perfect one, and that's very rare.

Susie will be on anti-rejection medicine for the rest of her life, but the dose is small and keeps dropping.