By the time you read this, Amanda Hull will have a new kidney.
Nicole Rood, Hull’s childhood friend, donated one of her kidneys on Tuesday Jan. 30 to the Liverpool woman, who suffers from chronic renal failure.
The two were inseparable from kindergarten through high school. They met in 1975 at Knox Memorial Central School in the North Country town of Russell and clicked instantly. Even different classrooms couldn’t spoil their friendship.
“Nicole cried when she found out they weren’t going to be in the same class in second grade,” Peggy McKee Taylor, Hull’s mother, said. “But they stayed friends and were together again in sixth grade.”
The girls remained friends through middle and high school. After graduation, however, they drifted apart, as even the best of friends sometimes do. Hull, nee Amanda Rude, graduated from Monroe Community College in 1993 and married Christopher. They moved to Liverpool near her parents, Jay and Peggy Taylor (her biological father, William Rude, lives in Honeoye Falls); Rood, formerly Nicole Beachard, and husband Mark moved to Canton and had two sons, Brandon and Dalton. The women lived more than 100 miles apart when illness brought them back together.
In June of 1997, Hull developed hemolytic uremic syndrome after encountering E. Coli bacteria. HUS is one of the most common causes of short-term kidney failure in children. The illness develops when E. Coli lodged in the digestive tract begins to make toxins that enter the bloodstream and destroy red blood cells.
Within a week of getting sick, Hull experienced complete renal failure, which occurs in approximately half of HUS cases. She suffered two strokes, multiple seizures and skyrocketing blood pressure, which caused permanent blindness in her left eye. While the other health problems resolved with treatment, Hull never regained kidney function. She has been on dialysis for nine years. She has also suffered from Type I diabetes since childhood, further complicating her health.
When she found out her childhood friend was sick, Rood contacted her immediately.
“We hadn’t talked in nine years,” Hull told James R. Donnelly of the Watertown Daily Times. “We talked as if we had never been apart.”
Hull had a kidney transplant in 1999, but her body rejected the organ within a week. She was scheduled for another in 2003, but antibodies produced after a blood transfusion during gallbladder surgery led her doctors to fear that the second transplant would fail, as well.
All seemed hopeless until last spring, when Hull went to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, one of the top hospitals in the country. The hospital has a number of innovative transplant programs allowing donors with different blood types from patients to donate an organ.
Despite the advances, Hull’s family members were still ruled out as possible donors. That’s when Rood stepped up.
“I had always thought about doing it, but I wasn’t the same blood type,” she told Donnelly. “I heard of the program and called Amanda and told her of my interest.”
Once she overcame her initial shock at her friend’s generosity, Hull accepted. Rood went through the testing and was deemed an acceptable donor. The surgery took place at Johns Hopkins Tuesday morning. While Hull must stay in the hospital for six to eight weeks, Rood will likely be able to go home after a week.
“One of God’s angels”
Hull’s family can’t begin to express their gratitude to Rood for her gift to their daughter.
“Nicole is one of God’s angels,” McKee Taylor said. “She has a kind, caring and gentle spirit. With love, courage and determination, she will give her best friend another chance to live a normal life.”
“To think that someone loves you so much ” Hull said. “I hope that someday I can put into words what I think of her doing this.”
In order to defray medical and travel costs, contributions are being accepted at any Community Bank branch. Contributions can also be mailed to The Amanda Hull and Nicole Rood Transplant Fund, Community Bank NA, 80 Main St., Canton, NY 13617.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.