The woman who donated her kidney to her ex-husband

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
I wanted to end 2019's A to Z Challenge about Heroes of Kindness with something unique and this story felt just right to me. It is something I can't imagine doing and I wonder if you would too.

Mary Zeigler was 14 years old when she fell in love. She remembers hanging around as Bill Henrichs chased his musician dreams, helping carry around the amplifiers too as a young girl. As soon as they turned 18 years old, the two got married to one another.

44 years after giving her heart, Mary Zeigler made an amazing gesture for her ex.

As the years went by, the childhood sweethearts expanded their family, having a boy and a girl. Life was a bed of roses. Except it wasn't.

The years slowly drifted them apart too, Mary's more athletic nature at odds with Bill's cerebral personality. They held on for as long as they could but the strain took its toll until the two finally had to face the harshest reality of their life - that the childhood sweethearts were pulling each other down and were not meant to be.

44 years after giving her heart, Mary Zeigler made an amazing gesture for her ex.

"When you're 18, you're one person. And when you're 40, you're an entirely different person. That's what happened to us. We got older and we became totally different people."

24 years after they got married, Bill and Mary got divorced, staying cordial for the children's sake. Bill would get married to Linda down the line and surprisingly, Mary and Linda got along just fine.

Then, in February 2018, Bill found out he needed a kidney transplant. Of all the people in the world, Mary ended up being a perfect match. But how do you ask your ex-wife to give away her kidney? Turns out, you don't. Because Mary volunteered immediately.

"For me, it wasn't even a decision. It was kinda like him calling up and saying, 'can you come over and help us rake leaves?' That's how I think of it.” 
- Mary Zeigler

44 years after giving her heart, Mary Zeigler made an amazing gesture for her ex.

In October 2018, 44 years after Mary Zeigler gave Bill Henrichs her heart, she gave him her kidney.

The 62 year old grandmother even restricted her diet and drank lots of water for a month before the surgery to make sure the kidney given was at its healthiest. The surgery went well and both are doing fine with the couple's kids telling everyone the story.

At the insistence of a friend, Mary Zeigler speaks publicly about what she did too now. She doesn't do it for the attention. No, her reason is more personal. She hopes that telling this story will inspire couples to be more civil with one another in the event of a breakup.

"Without that civility, a divorcing couple will harm their children for the rest of their lives." 
- Mary Zeigler 

44 years after giving her heart, Mary Zeigler made an amazing gesture for her ex.

Author's note:
This is part of my  #BlogchatterA2Z and #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion. 

Of course, I have been tracking these lovely human beings for years now and have found children as young as six years old and old women in their eighties from across the world who will restore your faith in humanity.

Want more stories of compassion to brighten up your day? Hundreds of 'Heroes of Kindness' can be found here:

Heroes of Kindness - 2017 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2018 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2019 edition
Heroes of Kindness - Indian edition

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Let me know what you think.

  1. Wow! I was left awestruck reading about Mary's selflessness and love. If only people, who parted ways, were this civil with each other, it would change the way their kids turned out, isn't it? There would be so much less bitterness in every heart.

  2. This is the kinda love I believe in!

  3. That is such a beautiful gesture and the message, in the end, is something to ponder on. Loved this series Doc! Thank you for making us realize that there is still some good left in the world when all we read or hear about these days is about hate and violence.

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