Nearly two years after having both of her kidneys removed, an Alpine teenager finally got to meet the generous woman who saved her life.
NBC 7 first introduced Kassidy Thomas in August of 2017. Her kidneys were failing due to a rare disease, and doctors were scheduled to remove them the very next day.
With every minute they were still in her body, Kassidy’s kidney’s were killing her. They were removed and she stayed, but hooked up to machines until she could find a donor.
More than 50 donors with Kassidy's blood type came forward, but disappointment settled with each case as tests revealed her body would reject their kidneys. But in January the good news finally came -- not from a friend or family member, but an anonymous donor who hadn't met Kassidy or even heard her story.
Kassidy got to ring the celebratory bell at the hospital signaling a successful transplant, but who gave her her new kidneys and why remained lingering questions until Wednesday.
"So I don't know what to say to her, thank you isn't enough,” Kassidy said.
Then, coming around the corner in super hero fashion was 37-year-old triathlete Bristol Hartlage. She told NBC 7 donating her kidney was just something she felt she needed to do.
"I don't know how to say thank you enough, because you saved my life,” Kassidy told Hartlage.
It was an emotional meet and greet for the donor and recipient, and by the looks of it, even more so for the recipient who have been by Kassidy’s side throughout the entire journey.
“You saved my daughter's life, you truly did, you are a hero, you're an angel on earth,” Kassidy’s mom told her.
Together the Kassidy’s couldn’t come up with enough words of thanks for their newfound hero, and NBC 7 nearly ran out of tape time waiting for that first loving hug Hartlage and the family shared to end.
Six months after surgery, Kassidy is back swimming and dancing again. As for Hartlage, she says aside from two small scars there's really been no lingering negative impact.