Brother rescued from house fire repays sister with kidney

Sunday, April 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ When she was 6, Anita Marie Boyd saved her three younger brothers from a burning house.

She carried the youngest, a baby, and led 2-year-old Paul and 4-year-old Dale to a neighbor's house as flames ripped through their Tulsa home.

Tulsa residents lauded the kindergartner with curly blond hair as a hero, donating new clothes, furniture and toys to the family. A local fire station named her honorary captain, giving her a badge, a hat and a ride in a fire engine.

Now, 44 years later, it's someone else's turn to be a hero _ Anita's brother Paul, whom she pried away from the television and ``Captain Kangaroo'' to escape the fire.

This time, Anita's life needed saving.

Anita, whose married name is Collins, learned last month that she needed a kidney transplant to survive. Her five brothers offered one of theirs, as did her 84-year-old father.

Paul's kidney was the best match. She had the transplant March 20 at St. John Medical Center.

``I feel like everyone has a mission,'' Anita says. ``I finished one and Paul has finished one. We just don't know what the next one will be.''

Paul says he doesn't feel like a hero. ``The only difference I feel is that I feel better for what I've done.''

Without Paul's donation, Anita might have waited on a transplant list for months or years. Nationwide 70,000 patients are waiting for organs, and St. John has 45 names on its kidney list.

Paul said he had intended to be an organ and tissue donor at his death. This experience has strengthened his feelings about the importance of being a donor.

``Any one of us can do it if we just have someone who matches up,'' Paul said.

Anita encourages people to offer their organs before someone in need asks for help.

``Don't wait for the recipient to ask you because they never will,'' she said. ``It's a guilt thing. Volunteer it and give that person a chance.''

The day of the fire, Anita's mother left her four youngest children home alone while she took two older boys to school.

``She was gone a total of eight minutes, and in that time the whole house was engulfed,'' said Anita, who now lives in Cleveland in Pawnee County.

The rental house was a total loss, destroying all the family's clothes and other belongings.

The children's father, Everett Boyd, 84, credits Anita's household responsibilities for her composure during the emergency.

``I gave them something to do ever since they were 3 or 4 and none of them have turned bad,'' he said. ``That's what's wrong with the younger generation _ no responsibility.''