Lynell Lovinggood wishes she had written down the date when a woman she didn’t know prayed a heartfelt prayer over her because she remembers hearing her ask for a kidney that was a perfect match.
“And that’s exactly what happened,” Lovinggood related.
It’s a sobering reality — she knows the kidney she so desperately needed came from a 27-year-old on the other side of the country who didn’t live to see the next day. She knows the family of that person grieves on the same date each year that she celebrates.
But she also knows that in the midst of that donor’s death, God worked a miracle — the kidney was a six-out-of-six antigen match, a rare occurrence outside identical twins and some siblings.
And she remembers the date she got the call that gave her a new chance at life — Aug. 8, 2007.
“They told us the kidney worked while I was still on the table,” Lovinggood said, noting they normally “rest” before doctors know if they’re going to function properly.
“It’s been such a beautiful story.”
Lovinggood’s transplant story started in the 1990s when her rheumatologist saw some things he was concerned about. He thought they might be dealing with lupus, though Lovinggood didn’t have some of the primary symptoms.
It wasn’t long before they found lupus lesions on her kidneys. She began two years of chemotherapy.
“As the lesions were being destroyed, the kidneys were also, and the function started going down,” Lovinggood said.
That’s what brought her to the day when she went to a service specifically geared to prayers for healing, and the stranger prayed for a perfect match for her. Some friends from her church — Shades Mountain Baptist in Birmingham, Alabama — had suggested she go.
And that was the beginning of what Lovinggood said has been a long journey of her church caring for her so well. Her family was going through a difficult season even before transplant surgery was discussed, and the love of her faith family came at just the right time, she said.
“It was a sweet time of ministry from my church.”
Right after the transplant surgery, the worship leader and his wife came over to sing her favorite song — “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” — over her.
And in the days that followed, cards flowed in. She taped them all around her door so she could see them every day. Food came at the same rate. Two months later, meals were still showing up at her door.
“That was such a testimony for the clinic to hear when they asked me about whether or not I’d been eating well, and I could tell them how my church had been providing meals for me ever since the surgery,” Lovinggood related. “It was a beautiful picture of God’s people over and over again.
“It was overwhelming. Sometimes I would just cry. I don’t know if there’s anything like it, to see God work in so many specific ways through different people.”
Fifteen years later, the donor kidney is still keeping Lovinggood alive. She remembers with gratitude the love of her church and the love shown to her by her three children in that tough season. God used them to get her through, she said.
The whole situation has shown her God’s faithfulness in a way she wouldn’t have gotten to experience otherwise, she added.
“Without him, I’m not sure where I would’ve been,” Lovinggood said.
Hear more on the Stories podcast
Sometimes kidneys come from a tragic loss of life followed by a family’s generous decision to donate a loved one’s organs. But other times they come from living donors who feel prompted to step up and donate to a person in need. For three incredible stories of donors like this, check out Season 7 of TAB Media’s Stories podcast, available now. Listen at tabonline.org/stories or wherever you get podcasts.