Todd Armour of Country Club Hills has a secret Santa to thank for his early Christmas gift that has been three years in the making.
Armour spent three years on the transplant list waiting for a kidney. In that time, he had to give up his job at the CTA and essentially have his entire life revolve around his dialysis treatments.
That all changed Monday morning, when the call came in: a kidney had become available.
"It's like a new lease on life. It's like: Wow! It's just like, I lay down, I woke up, and everything changed," said Armour.
For Armour, a dialysis patient for more than three years, a simple task like walking from the bedroom to the sofa was something that would leave him drained. Saturday night, he is back from the hospital, after receiving a kidney transplant Monday, and is feeling better than ever
"I feel great. My energy is at a level that it hasn't been at in three years. My skin complexion has totally changed," said Armour.
Armour's kidney troubles started as a result of high blood pressure back in 2008. Shortly after, he found out he had been born with just one kidney - a condition that affects one in 750 people. Armour went on the transplant list, but it took until now to find the right match.
"There is only certain things they can tell you about a donor, but they do tell you their age," said Armour. "He was a 41-year old male. He died from head trauma."
Todd's mother, Elaine Armour, has been her son's primary caregiver for the last three years. She says her best gift this Christmas is not one found under the tree.
"If I were at the age when you could do cartwheels, I'd be doing cartwheels," said Elaine Armour. "It's a wonderful thing that has happened to Todd. It's just the best Christmas gift he could ever have, and that means it's the best gift I could have."
Although donors remain anonymous, Elaine says if she could say just one thing to the family of the man who died so that her son might live it would be this: "Thank you. Thank you. You need to know that for the rest of my life, you will be in my prayers, and my family will be forever grateful."
The Armour family, which also includes two sisters, lots of cousins and nieces and nephews, usually celebrates on Christmas Eve, but because Todd's immune system is still weak from surgery, they have postponed their get-together to New Year's Day. So while all of their presents will have to remain unopened a little while longer, really, they already got the best one.