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Living kidney donor found on Facebook becomes ‘sister’ to Alberta man

Living kidney donor found on Facebook becomes ‘sister’ to Alberta man
WATCH: A year ago Mike Delorme and Shanda McCutcheon were total strangers. Now, after going through the living kidney donation process, they’re as close as family. Tony Tighe reports

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.

READ MORE: Christmas kidney: Living donor to give organ to perfect stranger she met online

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.

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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.

A Calgary man in need of a new kidney gets an unexpected offer from a perfect stranger
A Calgary man in need of a new kidney gets an unexpected offer from a perfect stranger

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.”

READ MORE: The ‘Logan Boulet effect’: Humboldt Broncos player’s family feels pride, heartbreak in wake of tragic death

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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.”

Mike and Shanda pose for a photo in the hospital the night before surgery. .
Mike and Shanda pose for a photo in the hospital the night before surgery. . Supplied
Mike heading into surgery on April 11. .
Mike heading into surgery on April 11. . Supplied
Mike resting after his kidney transplant surgery at the Foothills hospital. .
Mike resting after his kidney transplant surgery at the Foothills hospital. . Global News
Shanda resting post living-kidney donation at the Foothills hospital. .
Shanda resting post living-kidney donation at the Foothills hospital. . Supplied
Mike up for a walk post-surgery at the Foothills hospital. .
Mike up for a walk post-surgery at the Foothills hospital. . Supplied
Mike and Shanda sit in the sunroom at the Foothills hospital two days post-transplant surgery.
Mike and Shanda sit in the sunroom at the Foothills hospital two days post-transplant surgery. Supplied

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.

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“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.

One side of a leaf pin worn by Shanda and Mike as a reminder of the living kidney transplant.
One side of a leaf pin worn by Shanda and Mike as a reminder of the living kidney transplant. Global News