Starbucks Barista Saves Army veteran's life with the Greatest Gift of all

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
The story of how a pretty barista at a Starbucks saved the life of an army veteran begins with a simple question. "What's been going on with you?"

husband and wife celebrating

Nicole McNeil worked at a Starbucks in DuPont, Washington. 

woman in coffee shop

When she noticed one of her regulars, Vince Villano, looking depressed the last few times he came over, she asked him what was up. Dismissing his protests, she insisted she had time to listen. Finally, Vince told her truth. He had an polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder which meant a lifetime of dialysis or slow death unless he found a kidney transplant. He had resigned himself to the fact that his daughters would grow up not having their dad much longer.

Nicole could not get the army veteran's tears out of her mind as she returned from work and spoke about the encounter with her husband Justin, an army veteran himself. 

man wife three children
Justin and Nicole McNeil with their three children

Perhaps even she did not expect the first response that he gave.   

"I’ve got a kidney, you know, we could do this. I think I’m willing to do that.”

Justin got himself tested and as fate would have it, was a perfect match. The two men bonded over months and underwent surgery successfully in December 2018. 

two men in a hospital
Justin McNeil and Vince Villano

Doctors say that Justin's gift bought Vince an extra 20 years of life to spend with his family. A family that now includes the McNeils. 

family sitting together for dinner
Vince Villano and the McNeils - a bond that started with a simple gesture from a kind barista

Heroes of Kindness:

Since 2017, every year, I take up the #BlogchatterA2Z & #AtoZChallenge and focus on showcasing lovely real-life heroes from around the worldThe aim is to remind you that there is still plenty of good human beings all around you... to inspire you to smile once more.
You can follow my 2020 Edition of Heroes of Kindness here.

Want more stories of compassion? I have Hundreds of 'Heroes of Kindness' to brighten your day here:

2017 edition (Articles - 40, Heroes - 67)
2018 edition (Articles - 34, Heroes - 52)
2019 edition (Articles - 31, Heroes - 42)

Heroes of Kindness - Indian edition
Heroes of Kindness - My Interviews

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Let me know what you think.

  1. Wow. How could someone be so large hearted - amazing!

  2. Wow. Your posts are so inspiring and interesting. It takes a lot from one to be so selfless and donate a kidney to someone you do not even know well

  3. How heartening it was to read that! I am glad there are people like that still in the world!

  4. Kismat connection! Gift of an organ is gift of life. So heartening to read this story.
    - Its M for Mystique Lane at

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. This is unbelievable. God bless the extended family.

  7. This is the ultimate sacrifice and act of kindness. I believe that some meetings are meant to be. God Bless this amazing soul.

    Suzy Someday Somewhere Letter M

  8. How does one become so selfless and large-hearted? I had tears in my eyes reading about this.

  9. Wow that is indeed a huge feat of human kindness. Very very few people would do that for a relative stranger!

  10. Fate always finds its way. Wonderful story. Happy A2Zing buddy :)

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