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(FOX NEWS) – A Virginia woman who donated her kidney to a stranger is being called a “guardian angel” by the family of the man whose life she likely saved.
“If it wasn’t for [Crysti Shirley] I would be attending a funeral. She is a beautiful person,” Maysa Munsey Slominski, the recipient’s cousin, told Fox News on Wednesday.
Until recently, Jim Abed was in desperate need of a new kidney. The Fairfax, Va., man had been on the transplant list roughly two years, receiving dialysis multiple times a week while he waited.
In short, Abed’s time was running out.
So, initially against her family’s wishes, Slominski took to Facebook in February with the hope she could find a donor for her cousin.
At first, her call for help went unanswered. But the following month, Slominski’s former co-worker, Crysti Shirley, saw her post for the first time. While she knew Slominski from her previous job, she and Abed were complete strangers.
In mid-March, Shirley was scrolling through her Facebook feed when a post suddenly caught her eye.
“When I say caught my eye, I mean gave me goosebumps and butterflies in my stomach. It was the story of someone’s loved one who needed an O kidney,” she wrote on Facebook.
“I knew in my heart that I was meant to give him my kidney,” Shirley told Fox News. “I can’t explain it.”
Shirley then contacted Slominski, who helped her begin the process to find out if she would be a match for Abed, a father of two.
After a “whirlwind few months of blood work, evaluations and extensive testing,” Shirley was informed she was Abed’s perfect match.
“She felt like there was true calling, that her faith was telling her to do this,” Slominski said, who added that Abed’s doctors suspected his closest match would be a family member, such as a sibling or parent — not a stranger.
On July 26, the two underwent the surgery, which took place at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
“It went beautifully,” Shirley said, adding that she had an “overwhelming sense of peace” and was not nervous the morning of the procedure.
Shirley was released from the hospital two days after the surgery, but stayed in a nearby hotel with her husband until Abed was released as well. Both are now at home recovering.
“[Abed] was very taken aback by the goodness of a complete stranger,” said Slominski of her cousin’s reaction.
While Abed’s family sees Shirley’s action as a blessing, the opposite is true for her.
“I am the one who received the blessing,” she said. “My hope is that he can go out and live a full, beautiful life.”
“God called me to do this; there is no thanks that’s needed,” she added.