The Ultimate Gift
All Laurie McCoy of Clarks Summit wanted was for her mother, Barb McIlwee, to heal.
Barb had been diagnosed with rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis, a disease which kills both of a person's kidneys, in November of 2010. To treat her condition, she had four hours of dialysis five days a week and needed a kidney transplant.
Laurie recalled the day she discovered that her blood did not match that of her mother, making her an unsuitable kidney donor.
"I found out on my birthday that I was not a match for her," she said. "It was devastating for me that I could not help my mom feel better."
Laurie was so upset that she called her husband, Tim, to tell him the news.
"He said to me, 'where do I get my blood taken to see if I am a match?' There was no hesitation from him," Laurie said. "He knew what he wanted to do, in his eyes, it was what had to be done."
Barb McIlwee remembered her reaction to Tim's decision.
"I told Laurie no, that Tim had her and their family to take care of," she said. "I wouldn't be able to live with myself if something happened to him. He insisted."
On Thursday, Feb. 28, Tim McCoy donated one of his kidneys, effectively saving the life of his mother-in-law. This Saturday, May 18, the "Blessings for Barb" benefit will be held at the Holy Rosary Center on East Market Street in Scranton from 7-10 p.m., to help offset both Barb and Tim's medical expenses, including the cost of medicine and Tim's lost wages from taking a month off of work for the transplant.
Both Barb and Tim are rapidly recovering from their respective surgeries. Laurie explained that both her mother and her husband show improvements daily.
"Tim is now 11 weeks out of the surgery and every day is better than the other," she said. "He would say to me that his pain was nothing like what my mother had gone through. What do you say to something like that and to someone who has a heart that big? I feel like 'thank you' is not enough, but I keep telling him that."
For Barb McIlwee, her experiences showed her the true meaning of life.
"The way I see it, nobody is promised tomorrow," she said. "I didn't know from day to day if I would make it or not. I have to thank my family for being there for me and all my friends. I have to say, there's always somebody worse off than I am, no matter what I went through."
"Tim doesn't think he did anything special, but he gave me a second chance on life," she continued. "I appreciate it more than he will ever know. There's no way I could ever repay him for what he did for me."
For more information or to purchase a $15 ticket for "Blessings for Barb," call Laurie McCoy at 241-6891 or Tom McIlwee Jr. at 909-6368.