A Mississippi woman decided to donate one of her kidneys to an Oklahoma man – she had never even met. The successful kidney transplant took place on Monday, June 24, at the INTEGRIS Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Institute at Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
Anna Cannington learned Dustin Rippetoe, of Tulsa, Okla., needed a kidney through a strength training community called StrongFirst, of which Cannington and Rippetoe are both members. The StrongFirst community rallied around Rippetoe by creating a GoFundMe campaign and a Facebook support page.
Dustin Rippetoe, 43, is a father and husband. In 2007, he was diagnosed with Berger’s disease, a condition that occurs when an antibody known as immunoglobulin A builds up inside a person’s kidneys. This can cause inflammation that, over time, can hamper the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood. This is what happened to Rippetoe and why he was eventually put on the kidney transplant list.
Anna Cannington had seen a news story in Mississippi about a woman there who had donated a kidney to a complete stranger. She was deeply moved by this person’s selfless generosity, and felt compelled to do the same. “I had the resources, I had the health and I had the time,” says Cannington. “I think a lot of people would do this if they could. I think the willingness is there, I just think there are a lot of obstacles in the way for many people. I didn’t have those obstacles, so I was happy to do what I could to help a fellow human being.”
Cannington contacted Rippetoe’s support group in January this year. She flew to Oklahoma in April for testing and only then, did the two actually meet face to face. “Telling her ‘thank you’ just doesn’t cover it, I mean there are no words to describe how grateful I am to her,” admits Rippetoe. “I’m jealous of her clarity to be able to do that for someone. There needs to be more Annas in this world.” Rippetoe and Cannington don’t like to use the term “strangers” when telling their story. They say they felt an instant connection with one another, and know that theirs will be a friendship that lasts a lifetime.