LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Shortly after school began this August, parents and students of London Elementary School may have noticed the absence of London Police Officer Frances Jones on Main Street. Instead of directing traffic for the safety of students, she was under the knife in an attempt to save her brother’s life.
Her younger brother, Carl D. Sester, was struggling with kidney failure and had been receiving dialysis treatments for two-and-a-half years. However, Sester was unable to be placed on a donor list until he lost 200 pounds.
After receiving gastric bypass surgery and working hard to lose the weight over the course of the past year, three of siblings were tested to see if they were a match. And in fact, they all were a match, but only one was identical.
“I felt that it was going to be me; I’m going to be the match,” Jones said. “We had to wait all day to get the phone call.”
Jones was an identical match — a rarity in families unless the patient has an identical twin and Jones is not. They are, however, close in age; she was born 11 months prior. Jones said from the beginning she wanted to be the one to provide a better quality of life for her brother, not only because they were siblings but because Sester has a family and is a father.
“I had to save his life,” Jones said.
Minutes before surgery at the University Hospital Cincinnati Transplant Center, Jones’ son, Michael Harris, and her best friend, LeAnn Kennedy, stood by her side.
“If it was her, then I was going to be there regardless,” Kennedy said. “I was nervous (for her), of course, but she was so calm and so ready, we knew it was going to be fine. We knew it was meant to be.”
During surgery, doctors removed a kidney from Jones and, as soon as the doctor implanted it in Sester, the surgical staff was amazed.
“As soon as they attached her kidney to him, it immediately started working. It started turning pink and the doctor said it was as if Doug’s body did not know it was not his kidney,” Kennedy said. “It was truly meant to be.”
Seven weeks out from surgery, Sester’s creatinine levels, which are removed from the body entirely by the kidneys, are back to normal. His doctors are already taking him off of his anti-rejection pills. In seven months, he will only be on one of his current three anti-rejection pills the kidney was such a close match.
Sester returned to work in Jackson County driving a bus for the school district, and Jones came back on the job directing traffic on Main Street and patrolling around London in her Smart car.
“I feel so much better now. I can’t believe the difference from while I was on dialysis to what I am now,” Sester said.
He said his sister really did save his life.
“I love her more than anything. I don’t know what I’d do without her,” he added. “I’ll always be grateful.”