At a time when most of her friends are enjoying their senior year of high school, 18-year old Maddie Sabourin of Rome, Georgia is preparing to donate a kidney to her ailing grandfather.
Sam Senseney, 63, has spent the last six years on the list for a kidney transplant. However, there are still 2,000 names in the state of Georgia ahead of him. He’s currently receiving dialysis three times a week for four hours at a time.
“It pretty much wipes me out,” Senseney says of the dialysis. “It has just really taken a toll on me.”
Over the last six years, countless family members and friends have been tested, but none were matches to donate a kidney to Senseney.
During that time, Maddie tried to raise awareness for organ transplants as a contestant in the Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen Pageant. She even raised $7,500 for the American Kidney Fund.
After she turned 18, Maddie was finally able to be tested as an organ donor. As it turned out, she was a perfect match to donate a kidney to her grandfather.
Even though she was a match, doctors still thought she was too young to be a donor. But knowing she could save her grandfather, she wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer.
“Watching papa just be on the transplant list for the past six years has been super hard,” says Maddie. “We’ve always been really close.”
When she gave him the news, Maddie made her grandfather a card to let him know that she would be the one donating the kidney.
“It just pretty much blew me away,” said Senseney. “For as long as I’ve been looking for a kidney, and then she comes along and just has one.”
The surgery is likely to take place sometime next month. Maddie will have to miss three weeks of her senior year for the surgery and recovery. But she’s more than willing to make the sacrifice to help her grandfather.
“Papa is going to get all of his energy back, and he’s going to live the life he did six years ago,” says Maddie. “And I’m going to get my best bud back.”