When Steven Winfree was 18-years-old, he was excited to be on his college basketball team— that was until a routine physical changed his life forever.
When Steven was examined by health officials, they discovered he had progressive kidney disease. Sadly, they told the young man, he only had 50% of his kidney function remaining.
When a person has kidney disease, their kidneys are unable to filter blood, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) explains. As a result, this causes waste to build up in the body, leading to other conditions, such as heart disease, heart attacks, and an increased chance of stroke.
Since Steven met his wife Heather more than seven years ago, his health battles with kidney disease have worsened.
He’s developed severe gout, arthritis, underwent several surgeries, and has even had to have a toe amputated.
“A year ago, they put a port in his chest and he ended up going into septic shock,” Heather told CBS News.
“He spent seven days in the intensive care unit. I can’t tell you what grief felt like, feeling like I was going to lose my husband.”
Finally, in November 2016, Steven was forced to undergo dialysis.
He went through treatments for eight long months while looking for an organ donor but never found a match.
Instead of getting down, however, he used baseball cards to distract himself from the disease. Heather told MLB:
“There were a lot of times where he would be in the hospital and I would grab a pack and we would open them.”
“The lowkey fun gets our minds off the stress.”
After years of seeing Steven suffer, Heather decided to give her husband the ultimate surprise: her very own kidney.
But the first thing she had to do was see whether she was a match. In order to determine whether an organ donor is compatible, they have to go through a series of three tests: two that match and test the blood type and another that ensures the tissues won’t be rejected.
“I had already started planning how I was going to tell him before I knew I was a match,” she revealed.
“I never considered I wouldn’t be a match. I guess I had to have faith that I was going to be a match— that was keeping my hope alive.
For the big reveal, Heather decided to plan a surprise using one of their favorite things— baseball cards.
Heather orders a custom pack of baseball cards, featuring a very special addition. In it, she has included a one-of-a-kind card of her husband Steven with a heartfelt message printed on the backside.
In the heartwarming video, uploaded to YouTube, you see Steven flipping through the pack of baseball cards while Heather records.
He shuffles through Noah Syndergaard, Ben Zobrist, and Mike Trout; ”Oooh, very nice,” he exclaims when getting to Clint Frazier.
Soon, however, the custom card catches his eye and with a bit of prodding from Heather, he begins to read it aloud:
“Steve’s had a lot on his plate. With his health issues, he’s been striking out a lot.”
“He was not sure how he was going to wind up. His wife, however, thinks he is a great catch.”
“So, she’s decided to go to bat for him. Now Steve will be a rookie recipient of—”
When he sees the word “transplant”, he immediately bursts into tears.
Heather proceeds to tell Steven that she ordered the card before she had been confirmed a match— but Steven can’t say anything in return except for these powerful words:
“You’re saving my life.”
See it for yourself below!
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