Families meet after double kidney swap

ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) - Two Florida families involved in a kidney swap now have a forever bond.

Their story is almost unheard of - two women from different families each donated a kidney to save the life of the other’s loved one. The families met for the first time Monday.

Jamie McKenzie said her 4-year-old daughter Emery has needed a new kidney since birth.

“Seeing the way that these she’s struggled, struggled in life, nobody wants to see their child suffer,” the mother said.

Emery’s parents unfortunately were not proper matches, but Hallie Thomas was.

“This has been such a big journey for us, I’m a teacher, so anything involving kids is a soft spot for me,” Thomas said.

She happily donated a kidney to little Emery. As luck would have it, Emery’s mom was a match for Hallie Thomas’ husband Richard, who also needed a kidney.

“For as long as I have this kidney, for as long as I’m alive, that family and that gesture is going to mean a lot to us,” he said.

A swap between families is rare, but to have all of the people involved living locally was truly amazing.

“It means a lot to us, a piece of Hallie is part of their family, and their family is a part of our family,” Richard Thomas said.

“The anticipation of knowing who part of your body is with that family and part of their body is in my daughter now, it’s a pretty crazy scenario,” Jamie McKenzie said.

Hallie Thomas said she intends to have reunions with the family.

“Multiple reunions from here until the end of time,” she said.

Once COVID-19 isn’t such an issue, they’ll also have a much-anticipated embrace.

“The time when COVID doesn’t exist and just wrap my arms around her and give her the biggest hug,” Hallie Thomas said.

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