MAYS LANDING, N.J. -- "I was already in phase three of kidney failure. When I caught COVID, I went to stage five," said Roy McIntosh. "Unbeknownst to me, my wife put a post on Facebook and a total stranger came forth wanting to give me a kidney."
That stranger was Heather Schaefer from Harker Heights, Texas. She and McIntosh's wife, Toshira Maldonado-McIntosh, happened to be members of the same Christian Facebook group.
"I just thought it was a really normal thing to do," said Schaefer. "I was like, of course, I'll give my extra healthy kidney."
Schaefer thought that she might be one of many people to reach out. Meanwhile, Maldonado-McIntosh was so shocked that she almost didn't believe her. Nevertheless, they connected and ran several tests before committing to the donation.
"A perfect stranger. Perfect match. And a perfect God," said Toshira Maldonado-McIntosh.
Schaefer, a U.S. Army wife, already had enough on her plate with a family full of children. But she thought this was her own call of duty.
"I never had any doubt. I'm so glad. I'm so happy," she said. "It was made very simple because I think it was truly meant to be."
After about six months, surgery was scheduled. In June 2022, Schaefer had her kidney removed in Texas. It was then securely transferred to New Jersey, where McIntosh awaited his new lease on life.
Since the successful procedure, McIntosh says he feels great and enjoys taking daily walks to promote his health. He gifted Schaefer with matching handmade West Indian bangles that they wear every day.
"Every time I look at it, I'm like wow. And I was looking at myself and I say I have a piece of Heather in me," said McIntosh. "It's such a brave thing that she did. And I really love her."
In the future, both families hope to share a holiday dinner together. But no matter how far apart, they will always share a bond quite unlike any other.
Editor's note: This report was originally published in December 2022.