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The ultimate gift

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.

Tragedy strikes

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.

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