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His Ex Wasn't 'the One.' But She Was 'the Donor'

Minn. grandma Mary Ziegler donates organ to her former husband
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2019 8:45 AM CST
A sweet story to start off the new year.   (Getty Images/gorodenkoff)

(Newser) – Not all divorces have to end in acrimony. Just ask Mary Ziegler and Bill Henrichs, who when they ended their marriage two decades ago made a pledge to treat each other right for their kids' sake. "You know all those bad divorce things, we agreed not to do that," Henrichs tells the St. Cloud Times. Their "happy divorce" eventually made room for Henrichs' new wife, Linda, whom Ziegler calls "one of the best things that ever happened to all of us." Now the couple has reverted back to the "in sickness and in health" clause of their defunct legal union: Ziegler donated a kidney to Henrichs in October. "I care for him, still," the 62-year-old grandmother tells Inside Edition of her decision to give her "nice fat voluptuous kidney" to her former spouse, whom she's known since the ninth grade and who'd been dealing with kidney failure due to hypertension and diabetes.

Everything just seemed to sync up: Others who were tested to be donors for Henrichs were either not healthy enough, too old, or not a close-enough match. Their two adult children may have been matches, but they both have young kids and jobs, and so Ziegler and Henrichs didn't want to burden either of them. That's when Ziegler, who ended up having the same blood type and some of the same antigens, stepped up. "The universe was just kind of like, you're the one," Ziegler tells the Times. "When you're tapped on the shoulder, you should answer the call." Both are recuperating well, and although they say some are surprised to hear their story, it's just par for their relationship. "I'm hoping that he has another 20 great years," Ziegler says, adding to FOX 9: "If this story changes one person's actions or attitude towards their ex, it'll be all worth it." (This organ donation led to a "transplant chain.")

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