LaGrange women share 54 years of friendship and one ‘champion’ kidney

Published 8:49 am Saturday, March 2, 2024

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Almost everybody has a best friend, but one woman in LaGrange has THE best friend.

Would your best friend give you a kidney? That’s a question that most people won’t ever have to ask. For LaGrange resident Sharon Teaver, it’s a question she didn’t even want to ask. Luckily, her best friend of 50-plus years, Emma Allen, volunteered before she had to.

In 2021, Teaver had a lung transplant due to pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive genetic disease. She said her two brothers had previously passed away due to the disease. When she began showing signs of having the disease as well, doctors were quick to get her on the donor list for a lung transplant.

Before the transplant, her health was otherwise good but due to complications with the surgery, she ended up losing her kidneys.

After getting a lung transplant, Teaver was given the news that she would now need a kidney transplant. She was told that for someone with her blood type and health, the wait would likely be five years before a deceased donor could be found. However, a living donor could be quicker.

Eventually, Teaver recovered enough to go home from the hospital, but she had to go on dialysis for around two and a half years.

After recovering enough to come home, Teaver visited Allen, whom she had known since they were 10 years old a Southwest Elementary School, now known as Berta Weathersbee.

“I had moved up here with my family at the age of 10 from Florida, and the first day of school I met Emma. We’ve been friends that long,” Teaver said.

The two grew up in the same neighborhood, were in each other’s weddings and have been close friends for 54 years.

“I was on Harlem Avenue. She was on Alford,” Allen said, noting they were in and out of each other’s homes growing up.

During that conversation after coming home from the hospital, Teaver said Allen began to ask about her options. She told her that she needed a kidney and would have to find a matching donor.

“She asked, ‘Well, what is your blood type?’ and I said, ‘It’s type A,’ and she said, ‘That’s my blood type,” Teaver said. “We didn’t really talk about her being a donor that visit, but she went home, and she talked to her family about it and they were supportive.”

Teaver said Emma later called her and said she wanted to donate a kidney to her.

“My initial reaction was, absolutely not. No. I can’t, but she was just persistent and said it’s something really important to her, and she really wanted to do it,” Teaver said.

“I knew that it would be hard for me to ask somebody for a kidney,” Teaver said, noting there is a lot of guilt attached.

Both being of faith, Teaver and Allen agreed to pray about it and let God’s will be done.

“All along the way, there were so many little achievements. We both had things we had to do to get to that point to be able to have that operation, and it finally all came together. All along the way, it was like one answered prayer after another. We were both just in awe, like this is really happening,” Allen said.

Teaver said the doctors were initially hesitant to do the surgery because of her previous health issues, and she feared they wouldn’t do it, but Allen ended up being a perfect match.

Both ended up having their surgeries on Dec. 12, 2023, and were able to return home before Christmas.

“It was just so cool because they removed my kidney and took it to another operating room and in like 20 minutes, she had the kidney, which is now our kidney,” Allen said.

“Yes, we call it our kidney. We also call it a ‘championship’ because it’s just functioning so well,” Teaver said.

“The surgeries went great. I couldn’t believe it after having been through a lung transplant, which was a whole different story. I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was like the next day my kidney numbers were normal,” Teaver said.

“Our kidney works great,” she said.

If everything continues well, Teaver won’t have to go back to dialysis.

“I wanted to get her off that dialysis. That was the main goal,” Allen said. “Thank the Lord that you don’t have to sit in that chair anymore.”

Teaver said she feels better than she has in a long time and is getting her strength back.

“I feel like I’m actually recovering. I never got my strength back after the lung transplant. I just lost all my muscle. I had an extended time in the ICU. It was kind of a bad time. Having to be on dialysis, I just wasn’t able to ever regain my strength, but I am now. I can tell the difference.”

Allen said she has fully recovered and might be a little healthier herself as well because she wanted to be healthy to be allowed to donate the kidney.

“I wanted it so bad. I started taking better care of myself, so that I would pass all the tests.  I lost a little weight and drank more water and ate better because I felt like I wasn’t trained,” Allen said. “I know that sounds silly, but I just wanted to help her, and it all worked out.”

Although Allen downplayed her actions, Teaver said she is her hero.

“After hearing everything she’s been through. She’s the hero. She’s the fighter,” Allen said. “The least I could do was give her a kidney. I don’t even miss it.”