When family is in need, some people offer a few bucks to pay a bill, or a place to sleep for a few weeks, even a shoulder to cry on. When Rock Hill's Quantica "Tink" Hemphill was in a tight spot with renal failure after years of dialysis, her baby sister went one better.
Alicia "Lisa" Hemphill offered her sister a kidney. Wednesday morning in Charlotte, doctors will take one of her two kidneys and give it to her sister.
"I just took it upon myself to get tested, to see if I was a match," said Lisa, 23. "And I was. So I decided that I would give as much of myself as I can - a kidney."
Tink, the older sister at age 29, has spent three days a week for the past six years having her blood cleaned through dialysis because her kidneys do not function properly. Her only shot at close to a normal life, where she doesn't have to have the dialysis three times week and can eat and drink and work like most people, was a transplant. But lists for transplants are long and finding a match is tough.
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"When Lisa said she would do it, I was overwhelmed," Tink said. "How do you thank somebody for giving you a kidney? She's the greatest."
Alice Watkins, the mother of the girls, said the sisters have always been close, even with the six year age difference between them. The decision to give a kidney came after a lot of praying and family discussions about what might happen.
"Lisa always said in every conversation, when we worried about what might happen if she agreed to this, that she wanted her sister to be happy and have a healthy life," Watkins said. "That's the kind of girl she is."
Tink knows from dealing with her doctors that a University of South Carolina professor's study showed that blacks are more likely to have kidney disease than whites but less likely in South Carolina to get a transplant. Some of the reasons found by the professor's study, according to an article in The (Columbia) State newspaper, were the fear of high costs, lack of healthy relatives, or fear and mistrust of the process.
Lisa Hemphill wasn't bothered by statistics or anything else. She has never had an operation before - but so what. Lisa will miss several weeks of work - and paychecks - but says there is no price tag for her sister's health.
"I will do anything I can do to keep my sister alive," Lisa said. "If that means a kidney, I'm ready."
Both ladies claim not to be nervous about Wednesday's surgeries. The recovery will be longer for Tink, but even Lisa is expected to be in the hospital at least a few days.
"I guess by the time they are getting me ready to go in for the operation, I might have some nerves," Lisa said.
Nerves, maybe, but no shortage of two healthy kidneys. One for her sister, starting Wednesday.
No shortage of guts for Lisa, either. And heart.