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NAMPA — Tia Hess never thought she’d give up her kidney.

But when her co-worker Freddie Hale got really sick and needed a kidney, she signed up to see if she was a good match to donate.

Last fall, Hess found out through Hale’s fiancée that Hess could apply to be a live donor. Hale had waited three years to find a donor.

“Then came my miracle,” Hale said. Hale could receive one of Hess’ kidneys.

“I prayed all winter,” Hess said. “Now, I have no reservations. There’s a peace … I can do this. I’m going to do this … ”

She had to pause.

“Because it’s Freddie.”

‘I’VE GOT A SPARE, SO I’LL SHARE’

Hale and Hess work together at Lowe’s in Nampa. Hale is undergoing dialysis four hours per day three days per week but still works.

Hale has diabetes, which caused his kidney failure.

In preparation for the donation, both Hale and Hess have had to have all sorts of doctor visits and medical tests, such as colonoscopies and, in Hess’s case, a mammogram.

But both also have support from their co-workers and manager.

As soon as the store’s general manager heard about what they were doing, he told them to take all the time off they needed.

Hale and Hess expressed appreciation for Lowe’s, feeling like the company “has their backs.”

At work, Hale and Hess don’t always talk about where they are in the donation process. Hess will call Hale with updates on doctor visits, but at work, they talk about other stuff.

“We know what’s going down,” Hess said with a laugh.

“It’s just one of those nice things,” Hess said, looking at Hale. “Here’s this lovely man who’s alive and …”

Her voice breaks.

“I get to help him live.”

To receive “such a gift,” is emotional for Hale, too.

“She’s so giving,” Hale said. “I could never repay something like this. At the same time, I worry so much for her.

“I don’t want anything to happen to this precious gift.”

BRINGING AWARENESS

After Hale has his surgery, he and his fiancée, Christa Hindman, are going to plan their wedding. They put it off while Hale was undergoing treatment.

Hess found out about becoming a living donor through Hindman’s Facebook page, and things unfolded from there.

“She’s my personal hero,” Hindman said about Hess.

Hindman, who also works at Lowe’s, now has a campaign on HelpHopeLive.org to raise funds. Hindman will give some money to Hess for some of the work hours she’s missed. The website is helphopelive.org/campaign/6517.

As Hess and Hale prepare for the kidney donation surgery, Hindman and another co-worker want to bring awareness to the importance and feasibility of organ donating.

“I want everyone to know how great this is,” said co-worker Archie Meza. “You’re helping someone (have) quality of life.”

While Hale was put on a list to receive a kidney, there is also a list of “living” donors waiting to give one of their kidneys.

The National Kidney Registry website (http://www.kidneyregistry.org/index.php) has information about topics such as living donors and coordinating donations.

“If you can help someone,” Hess said, “why not?”

Alx George is the IPT education reporter. Contact her at 465-8178 or ageorge@idahopress.com. Follow @missalxgeorge.

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