A year ago, Mike Delorme and Shanda McCutcheon were complete strangers. But a month after anxiously waiting in hospital beds for surgeries that would change their lives for the better, the two are almost inseparable.
“Things have seemed to go really well since surgery, so I think we’re just really feeling fortunate in that regard—that we accomplished what we wanted to,” McCutcheon said.
Four months ago, Global News covered the story of McCutcheon and Delorme, who were brought together through a desperate plea on Facebook by Delorme’s wife. He was in need of a kidney and McCutcheon felt compelled to give.
Delorme has diabetes and his kidneys were failing. Despite dialysis for hours each week, he was in need of a transplant and none of his family members were a match. The wait was estimated to have taken years.
His wife, Rebecca, took to Facebook in search of a donor and McCutcheon answered the call.
Watch from December 2017: A Calgary man in need of a new kidney gets an unexpected offer from a perfect stranger. Tony Tighe reports.
After months of testing, waiting and preparation, April 11 was the day — McCutcheon would be Delorme’s living donor. The experience has not only changed Delorme’s health, but totally transformed their lives and the lives of their families.
“She’s become my sister,” Delorme said. “We talk all the time. I love her as much as my children and my wife.
“She’s given me a second opportunity at life and I’d do anything for her.”
McCutcheon said she feels humble about being Delorme’s living donor and is embracing the new extension of her family.
“There’ll be a renewed sense of well-being for Mike and he can get back to enjoying his family and his friends and things he used to do that he wasn’t able to do when he was sick,” she said.
“It’s kind of like we’ve just joined our families and we’re just one big family now. It’s kind of remarkable after only knowing each other for a very short while.”
Rebecca says she still can’t believe how fate seemed to intervene that evening in March, and how she, her husband and their three children could be so fortunate to have McCutcheon come into their lives.
“He’s really happy and has so much more life than he had before,” Rebecca said. “He was sleeping a lot before, tired and in pain. This relieves a lot of stress and I’m just really glad he was able to get the kidney transplant and he’s home now.”
At the worst points of Delorme’s sickness, he was spending 16 hours a week in dialysis, meaning precious time away from his children and wife.
“The kids are really excited, too,” Rebecca said. “Our little boy was upset many nights that his dad was doing dialysis, so he’ll be happy to have him here.”
McCutcheon was compelled to become a living donor after seeing how her mother’s organs changed the lives of others. She hopes Delorme’s story will inspire others to sign donor cards or become a living donor for someone else.
Along with the scars to remind Delorme and McCutcheon of the lifetime bond they now share, the two each wear one half of a leaf pin, which symbolizes new life and the rebirth that came from the living donation — both physical and emotional.