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Marysville veteran gets ultimate gift

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KidneyMARYSVILLE, Wash. — It’s the gift of life.

A 26-year-old Kansas woman is hoping to donate one of her kidneys to a Marysville veteran who is not a family member.

Frank Gibson,62, got the grim diagnosis of kidney cancer seven years ago when he was serving in Iraq. His job there was to diffuse insurgent bombs. But it’s his personal war with cancer that reminds him every day that life is fragile, Gibson said.

“There are many nights and days the pain was so bad she would hold me and whisper prayers in my ears,” said Gibson.

The cancer has since gone into remission, but so have Gibson’s kidneys. Gibson undergoes five hours of kidney dialysis three times a week just to stay alive. And because none of his family members were a direct match, Gibson had accepted his life.

That is, until Renee Roberts of Wichita, Kan., reached out to him.

The two met during bomb training in the Air Force years back. Gibson was the oldest in the class. Roberts was the youngest.

“Since I was so young and away from my family he was my father,” Roberts said.

They lost touch for a long time until last year when Roberts heard of her friend’s difficult life and offered one of her kidneys.

“I have two and I only need one,” Roberts said. “No one should die on dialysis.”

Even though the veteran initially refused her offer, Roberts went ahead on her own to see if she could become the cure. “I kind of went behind his back and did some of the testing,” she said.

As soon as she learned her kidney was compatible, Roberts said she wasn’t taking no for answer.

“She said, ‘look if you don’t take my kidney I am going to give it to a stranger,'” Gibson said. “What do you do with that?”

After a year of constant communication and built up anticipation, the mother of three flew in from Kansas Sunday. The big transplant surgery is two days away. And the hope is Gibson will soon get his life back.

“The selfless act of giving somebody your kidney is amazing,” Gibson said.

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  • carol czarnik

    Renee is an example of what we all should be. Loving, caring and giving.. What a Christmas gift you have given Frank and his family.LIFE! You are an inspiration!

  • Laura Balaban

    This wonderful young women is my daughter and I couldn’t be more proud!! Not only is she committing this wonderful selfless act, but she is doing it without her husband or children by her side. It happened rather quickly and arrangements could not be made as well as the funds not being there. I know Franks family will take care of her while she spends the holiday without her family.

  • Bill

    Renee we are so proud of you for this selfless act we will have you and Frank in our prayers.
    Uncle Bill and Aunt Cheryl , Weirton Wv

  • Jannah Garza

    A good cry this morning! We are all so proud of you Renee and love you! Praying for you and Frank during this journey! See you soon!

  • CharleyLeChein

    EOD is the career field where they go out and dispose bombs, and now the IED that are causing many to be wounded or killed. A popular movie several years ago presented an example of how the EOD units work, the movie was named "The Hurt Locker", Former member of 636th Ordnance Company (EOD)

  • CharleyLeChein

    Its not hard to find the hospital they are in. The Providence @ Colby is the likely choice. Great food service there, I was there a year ago. Doubt anything has changed. If you are at Providence @ Pacific, then you may need takeout delivered. So what would you like me to try and sneak in? Just another vet
    showing support for both Mr Gibson and Ms Roberts, oh "welcome home"

  • Dramon Hayes

    I have been blessed to come to know Frank and his family and words can not express my joy for them or my sincere thankfulness to Renee for her gift. Love you all.

  • Laura Balaban

    They surgery went great!!! Frank has a functioning kidney! No more dialysis for him. I believe my daughter is his Christmas Angel!!

  • Shane Frith

    God’s grace reaches across the EOD career field as a whole! This is a very kind blessing to give another human being especially an EOD brother! This is also not the first time a kidney has been passed in the EOD family! Remember Kirk Folk, EOD captain gave his kidney to his chief’s wife, Connie and Rob Inman? Yeah, how many career fields can say that about their people? Well done Renee, well done!

  • Linda Gray

    Renee, your Grandma told me about all of this prior to your even having the surgery and kept me posted on all that was going on. You are such a beautiful young woman. Words cannot express how proud I am of you. This just does not seem like enough; saying that I am proud of you just does not cut it. I know that the Lord has been with you both through all of this. What an honor it is to know you the little that I do. Your husband also must be a wonderful man Renee. I pray that God blesses you, your husband and your children beyond all that you can imagine. God bless you Renee Roberts, God bless you ! Love, Aunt Linda and Uncle Mel

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