What would you do for your family? And how thankful are you for the family you have?
Meet brothers Brad and Greg Hinson. Brad is an assistant principal at Jay M. Robinson High School in Concord, and Greg is a teacher and coach at Mount Pleasant High.
Now meet sisters Sherri Christy and Misty Little. Their mother is sister to Brad’s and Greg’s father.
Like their cousins, Sherri and Misty both work in education. Sherri teaches at Mount Pleasant Elementary School and Misty at Mount Pleasant Middle.
The four cousins spent a lot of time together growing up. They all say they are more like brothers and sisters than cousins.
But Brad and Greg inherited something through their mother’s family: polycystic kidney disease.
Greg said their mother’s family has a long history of kidney problems. In 1972, their grandmother received one of the first kidney transplants in Charlotte, and their mother had a transplant 26 years ago.
In 2003, Brad was working on a master’s degree at UNC Charlotte when doctors told him he, too, would need a kidney transplant.
Family members all volunteered to be tested as possible donors, and both Sherri and Misty were matches. At that time, Misty still hoped to have another child, while Sherri felt her family was complete, so Sherri became Brad’s kidney donor.
Now fast forward to this year. In April, Greg had to have both of his failing kidneys removed. He went on dialysis to stay alive.
But at a football game in 2013, Misty had told Greg that when the time came, she wanted to give him a kidney.
So seven weeks ago, Misty and Greg underwent the surgeries that Sherri and Brad had 13 years earlier.
The four of them are close and see each other often. Misty jokes that lately a lot of their get-togethers have been health related, calling them “The One Kidney Club.”
But there is no doubt, no question, not a second’s hesitation when it comes to helping each other.
“It’s always been a given in our family,” Greg said, “that you do anything you can for them.”
Transplant surgery is harder on the donor than on the recipient, but neither Sherri nor Misty had complications. Their greatest concern was keeping the disruption in their children’s lives to a minimum, so each played second mother for the other.
Brad and Greg are both feeling great and grateful.
Brad makes a point of doing something special for Sherri each year on the anniversary of the transplant.
Greg, who returned to work recently, spoke of visiting Misty in the hospital as soon as possible for a talk and reflection. “I’m always thankful,” he said. “Forever.”
“Blessed” is the word I kept hearing from each of the cousins: blessed to have a loving family; blessed to be able to give and receive; and blessed that it all worked out so beautifully.