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‘The Debs’: Tampa Bay area small business owners officially become ‘kidney cousins’

TAMPA, Fla. — After weeks of talking over the phone and the computer, Debra Palmer can finally give Debbie Lundberg a real-life hug.It was back on Aug. 6 that the Debs checked into Tampa General Hospital for a kidney transplant that Debra had been waiting on for over a year.ABC Action News first reported their story the week leading up to the surgery.RECOMMENDED: ‘The Debs’: Tampa Bay area small business owners create bond through kidney transplant amid pandemicThe two small business owners only knew each other from networking events. Then Debbie saw Debra posting on social media about her need for a new kidney.“There are about four times as many people waiting for transplants than there are available organs,” said Debra.Once Debbie found out they were both A positive blood types she said the choice to be a donor was easy.“I wasn’t scared because I knew it would change her, it would be great for her,” said Debbie. “Waking up from surgery I was in my room and I wanted to know how Debra was, that was what one of my very first thoughts was.”The two women often call each other kidney cousins.“The kidney is working excellently, I have no issues with the kidney what so ever,” said Debra. “I used to say it’s her kidney, but she convinced me its not, it’s mine now, and that’s how I’ve adapted to it, and it is my new kidney and it’s a gift from Debbie.”Debra classifies her recovery as in the “healing stages,” but she has big plans for the future.“Prior to the surgery I bought a new bicycle, and I look at it every day, I try to get on it but I don’t have the strength quit yet, but that’s what I’m hoping for, to be more physically active,” said Debra.While Debbie said just seeing the renewed optimism in her kidney cousin, makes her own outlook on life that much brighter.“I’m excited, I feel good, knowing that Debra feels good makes me feel energized,” said Debbie.For information on how to become an organ donor go to https://www.tgh.org/KidneyTransplant or https://www.tgh.org/services/transplant.

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