April 25, 2014

Recipient and donor’s wife strike friendship



“I loved Roy with all my heart,” she said. “But he was gone. He wasn’t an organ donor, but he had talked about it. My mom’s boyfriend mentioned donating his organs and I said yes. I donated his heart, kidneys, long bones (upper leg bones), corneas, and tissues. But I made the restriction that they could only be donated to Kentucky residents.”

Her logic in that decision came from her aunt, who was on the donor list for a liver for five years.

“She waited all those years and even carried a beeper if a liver became available,” Traylor said. “She died waiting.”

Luckily, things worked in Lancaster’s favor with a transplant, with Roy’s kidney working perfectly. Although both Lancaster and Traylor wanted to meet each other, they bided their obligatory waiting period before Lancaster traveled to Princeton in the midst of a snow storm in Feb. 2009 to meet the wife of the man who gave her a second lease on life.

“When I first saw her walking to my door, I thought, ‘Good, she’s blonde. Roy always liked blondes.’ But I knew before we met we’d be friends, just from the letters we had written each other,” Traylor said.

Laughing, Lancaster said she was surprised when Traylor asked her about some of her personal traits.

“She asked me if I liked beer, because Roy liked to drink beer,” Lancaster said.

But after five years, the transplanted kidney failed and Lancaster had to undergo another kidney transplant.

“It’s different knowing that you have someone else’s kidney,” she added. “When you have a kidney transplant, they don’t take your kidneys out. Now, I have four kidneys.”

Although Traylor donated all of her deceased husband’s organs and tissues, Lancaster is the only recipient who responded to her.

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