Kidney donor and recipient doing well

March 27, 2010 8:53:53 PM PDT
Would you donate your kidney to the cashier at your favorite store? It's a question many are asking this weekend, because that is what a public school's social worker did. It appears the surgery was a success.

For the first time since her life-saving surgery, Myra De La Vega saw her angel, the man who gave her back her life.

"To see her in the chair this morning warmed my heart. Her skin color's back. She told me her energy is back. It's all looking good," said Dan Coyne, kidney donor.

Although it had just been hours since Coyne gave his left kidney to the 49-year-old single mother of two teens during the day-long kidney transplant, the Chicago public school social worker was up and walking around the halls of Northwestern Memorial Hospital where the procedure was done.

Saturday, Coynen credited his Christian faith as the reason he offered the gift of life to a woman he barely knew.

"Sometimes, I think we have a large God with a gentle voice that whispers, and I just felt the right thing to do would be to offer this," Coyne said.

Coyne first met Myra at the Jewel-Osco where she's a cashier -- after he chose her check-out line because she was so friendly. Three years ago when she started to look ill, Coyne asked what was wrong and learned De La Vega was on dialysis for kidney failure.

He then talked with his wife of 27 years about the possibility of helping the woman. He got her ok, but De La Vega said no, hoping her sister would be a match. When she wasn't, Coyne offered again, and Myra accepted after Coyne's two kids went through her check-out line one evening last month and gave her a card with the incredible news that their dad was a match.

"I came from around the counter hiding, held her hand and told her I was a match. She just busted out crying with joy. Actually, her knees buckled, and I had to get her off the floor she was so happy," said Coyne.

De La Vega was too weak to speak to reporters Saturday, but she spoke with ABC7 earlier in the week.

"I am so privileged. It makes me cry. It gives me chills," she said.

"This whole situation all this week is like a sappy Lifetime movie. It's really good. It's so good," said Mydel and Kim Santos, Myra's kids.

"When I grow up, I want to donate one of my kidneys as well," one of them said.

And while the two high school honor students are relieved their mom, who came to the U.S. 14 years ago, won't have to endure hours of dialysis after working her late shift, or pay tens of thousands of dollars a month for treatment, for Dan Coyne, Myra's second chance at life is a chance for everyone to remember they are connected.

"It's not about me. It's not about Myra. It's about doing the right thing," Coyne said.

Dan Coyne could be discharged this weekend, while Myra will probably stay hospitalized until Monday because she needs to be monitored after taking anti-rejection medication.

Both say, once they recover, they want to help find living donors for some of the roughly 85,000 people in the United States suffering from kidney failure.

There are just over 3,800 people waiting for a kidney transplant here in Illinois, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing registry.

For information, please visit that organization's Web site, or