WELLINGTON, Fla. — A life-changing experience brought two strangers together for life.
In June, we first introduced you to a Palm Beach County teacher who gave a piece of himself to a retired New York City cop.
But months later, something unexpectedly beautiful came out of the experience — a bigger family and a new friendship.
Scott Lacobs, 59, battled kidney issues for years.
“I fought this battle for 6 or 7 years,” he said.
He fought hard enough to stay off dialysis, which increased his chances of being able to obtain a new kidney.
“It was awful. I was getting headaches, I knew I was getting sick,” he said during an interview in June. “The doctors, they said [my] kidney function was 20 percent.”
After searching far and wide for a kidney donor, Lacobs found Marty Miller through the vast world of social media, not knowing Miller lived just a mile from his home.
“I was lucky,” said Lacobs.
The two matched up medically for a kidney transplant and the surgery took place on June 5. Eight weeks later, both say they have healed well.
“I’m feeling good,” said Lacobs. “They put you on a lot of medication and I’m on the anti-rejection drugs.”
Miller, a high school P.E. teacher, said the surgery timed out perfectly for summer vacation. He spent much of it resting and recuperating in time for the new year.
“This has been a different summer that’s for sure!” said Miller. “School year is starting and I’m ready to go.”
He’s even doing a triathlon in October, proof that organ donation isn’t as scary as anyone thinks.
“One of the questions, I’ve been getting a lot is, did it hurt? what’s different? did you feel anything?” he said.
Miller said the surgery wasn’t anything different from what he expected. The main hurdle was allowing the incision to heal, but other than that, Miller said he feels perfectly fine.
“It didn’t prevent me or stop me from anything,” he said. “The plan is to get back to my normal life.”
Lacobs hopes sharing their experience will encourage others to consider donating an organ to save another person’s life.
“It’s not a bad thing to donate a kidney or an organ,” he said.
Both men gained new scars but found more than they ever imagined.
“It’s not friendship, it’s family, you know?” Marty said through tears. “Our families have just merged together. We’ve had get-togethers with extended family. It’s very special to me.”
Beyond the kidney surgery, the families share more in common through education. Lacobs is a former teacher for Palm Beach County schools and the wives of both men also work for the school district.
After a summer of healing and love between two families now joined by the gift of life, the two men hope others can be inspired by their new outlook on life.
“I want continue to preach about miracles. You have to believe, you can’t lose faith,” said Lacobs.
Lacobs and Miller’s birthdays are just a few days apart this month. They plan to celebrate this weekend with a miracle birthday party.
Nearly 3,000 people are added to the national waitlist for a kidney every month, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
If you would like to learn more about being an organ donor, click here.