AURORA, Ohio (WJW) – The bond between 22-year-old Jaylin Chadwell and Jill Buckeye, who is over 60, is indescribable.
“It’s like a Hallmark movie of how we met and how this stranger has saved my life,” said Jill.
Diagnosed in third grade, Jill has lived with Type 1 Diabetes for most of her life. She managed it well, living a happy life with her husband Tom and son Zack in Aurora.
But recently, her diabetes began damaging two of her organs.
“Three years ago, my nephrologist said, ‘Jill, your numbers are going down,’ and I was like, ‘what do you mean by that?’ because I’m healthy, I’m working, no pain. He goes, ‘it’s your GFR, which is filtration of your kidneys.”‘
Jill soon went on the transplant waiting list and really wanted to match with a living donor.
Meanwhile, Jaylin was making a career change and started a job at Cleveland Clinic Twinsburg as a phlebotomist in April of 2021.
“So I started out being the new person and drawing people’s blood and you start to recognize the regulars,” Jaylin said.
In October, Jaylin started a conversation with Jill that would change both of their lives.
“I just kind of looked at her and I was like, ‘why are you getting so much blood taken?’ And she was like, ‘oh, I’m on the transplant list, I need a kidney.’ I said ‘oh, what’s your blood type?’ and she was like, ‘oh, I’m A positive,’ and I was like, ‘I’m also A positive.’ She laughed a little bit and said, ‘do you want to donate a kidney?’ and I was like, ‘yes, I do.”
Jaylin, who had wanted to donate an organ since age 12, applied on Cleveland Clinic’s living donor website and underwent extensive testing.
The two women were a perfect match and in March of this year, doctors performed the transplant surgery.
“To me, all living donors are heroes. Even the deceased donors, right? I mean, their family and all of them are heroes because they always give people the second chance,” said Dr. Alvin Wee, program director of the clinic’s kidney transplants.
But that wasn’t the end of their story. They have celebrated together with Jill’s friends, met each other’s families and now encourage others to consider donating.
“To anyone who’s thinking about it, it is an amazing decision. It’s a gift,” said Jaylin.
“It is a miracle. That’s all I can say. And I am so blessed, I am so blessed,” said Jill.
It’s been six weeks since the surgeries and both women are doing well and back at work.