Ga. Hooters waitress gives kidney to ailing regular customer

She’s got heart — and a kidney to spare.

A gracious Georgia Hooters waitress offered a long-time regular her kidney after she learned the patron had lost both of his to cancer.

Don Thomas had a grim prognosis before he met Mariana Villarreal, a recent hire at the chain’s Roswell location, some 23 miles north of Atlanta.

They were but acquaintances at the restaurant and barely knew each other when the idea of the life-changing swap took hold — and became a reality, WXIA-TV reported.

“I said, ‘Well I have two kidneys, do you want one of mine?'” Villarreal told the NBC affiliate.

“My reply was, ‘I will accept it,'” Thomas said.

Now, the elderly man is poised to receive his gift of life from a healthy young woman, who was inspired to help after recently losing her grandmother to kidney failure.

“I wasn’t able to do anything for my grandma,” Villarreal told WXIA. “If (Don) can live two more years, happy as he’s ever been, that’s fine with me. That’s not up to me. I did my part, now it’s God’s turn to keep him alive.”

The duo are scheduled to go under the knife Friday morning. Both are expected to have a full recovery and should live healthy lives for years, Dr. Harrison Pollinger, of the Piedmont Transplant Institute, told the TV station.

“You can live your whole life with one just kidney,” Pollinger said. “You only need one kidney for normal kidney function.”

Thomas was grateful to the near-stranger, who took it upon herself to give away a piece of herself to save him.

“Mariana and I are just two normal people,” Thomas told the station, “one who needs help – me – and Mariana, who is so willing to give help.”


Sasha Goldstein

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