Two years after a volunteer firefighter rushed to help her 1-year-old daughter, who was having a seizure, Becca Bundy returned the favor. The mother from Cook, Minn., donated one of her kidneys to Bill Cox after she ran into him in October in the bar that's employed him for 16 years. Cox—who was born with only one kidney, which was failing—was wearing a shirt that read, "I'm in end stage KIDNEY FAILURE And in need of a KIDNEY." When Bundy learned they shared the same blood type, she knew what she wanted to do. "I just said, 'I'm the one and I know it,'" she tells KARE. "I thought that was a way I could certainly say thank you." Per CNN, Cox says four or five people had offered up their kidneys after seeing his shirt, but none were a match. Bundy, it turns out, "was a perfect match for me."
"I can remember us both crying," Bundy tells CNN of the moment she told Cox the good news. Dr. Raja Kandaswamy of University of Minnesota Health, who performed the transplant in late February, says "there was a sense of urgency" because the mortality rate is high once a patient has been on dialysis "for a few years." Cox, 66, began dialysis in January, having been on the transplant list since 2017. He might've waited five to seven years for a kidney from a deceased donor. "I feel pretty blessed to be chosen to be on his journey with him," Bundy tells KARE. But Cox, who helped calm the scene until an ambulance arrived for Bundy's daughter in August 2016, still felt compelled to show his thanks by carving a wooden angel for Bundy. "She's my angel," he tells CNN. "She saved my life." (This woman gave a kidney to her ex.)