When Stewart Botsford and Justin Maduena greeted each other at the University of Chicago Medicine on August, 11, 2016, they were already bound together. Justin, from downstate Dawson, Ill. near Springfield, would soon be donating a kidney to Botsford, from suburban Arlington Heights. But the two were meeting each other in person for the first time.
Botsford was placed on the waiting list for a kidney transplant last year, after he was diagnosed with renal failure. His family began advertising for a potential donor, placing window decals on their cars that said “My husband needs a kidney” for his wife, Laura, and “My dad needs a kidney” for their daughter. Someone took a picture of one the cars, posted it on Facebook, and through the random series of acquaintances now made possible by social media, Justin’s wife Melinda saw it. She sent it to him, and he immediately called Stewart to see if he could help.
The transplant took place on August 16, and the two men are now back home recovering separately. But chances are they won’t be out of touch very long. Laura Botsford, a baker by trade, is planning to send Maduena a continuous stream of food and gifts, and promised to bake the cake when any of his children get married.
“There aren’t enough words to thank him,” she said. “He’s our angel walking on earth.”
Stewart and Justin’s story generated quite a bit of media interest both before and after the surgery. Here’s a roundup of some of the coverage:
- Arlington Heights family takes to the streets in search for kidney donor – Chicago Tribune
- Suburban Chicago family using their cars to find kidney for dad – Fox Chicago
- Suburban Chicago man receives kidney from total stranger – Fox Chicago
- Arlington Heights family finds, meets kidney donor for first time – Chicago Tribune
- Dog, internet, window ad lead Dawson man to donate kidney to stranger – Springfield State Journal-Register
- Kindness of Strangers: Central Illinois man gives kidney – WAND TV Decatur
- Rural Dawson man, Chicago-area organ recipient doing fine after living kidney donation – Springfield State Journal-Register
- Stranger saves arlington heights man’s life with kidney donation – ABC Chicago