Social worker honored for donating kidney

March 23, 2010 2:52:36 PM PDT
Dan Coyne met Myra De La Vega at a north suburban grocery store. Now, he is changing her life.

About 85,000 people are in need of kidney transplant surgery. Finding a donor and finding a perfect match is always the key.

De La Vega recently learned that a Coyne is donating a kidney to her. The transplant surgery is scheduled to take place at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Friday.

"Is this really true? Am I dreaming," said De La Vega. "I better be nice."

Coyne, a social worker at Pershing East Magnet School, struck up a friendship with De La Vega, a cashier at Jewel-Osco in Evanston, while shopping at the store. Eventually, he learned that the 49-year old desperately needed a kidney transplant to live. He offered her one of his kidneys.

"What's wrong with this guy? He is a family man. He has two kids and we are not related," said De La Vega.

After De La Vega 's sister failed to be a match, Coyne offered again. He was found to be a match.

"It turns out I am healthy enough to give this very small gift to myra. I am confident i am to do this," said Coyne.

"I am so privileged. It makes me cry. It gives me chills," said De La Vega.

The two spoke about the donation at Pershing East during the school's Dan Coyne Day and the Spirit of Giving.

"He has given me 25 to 30 years of life, so he's adding 25 to 30 years in my life," said De La Vega.

"I learned that giving is good," said Gabrielle Perry, Pershing East Student.

"I think that what he's doing is a very generous thing. And Myra is a complete stranger to him and she's just a grocery store clerk and he's just a customer and I was thinking, wow, that's really big," said Taylor Stalling, Pershing East Student.

Two other customers who were inspired by the story have decided to donate kidneys to family members in need of transplants.

Coyne and De La Vega will undergo surgery Friday.