Kristi Goll’s 8-year-old son, Jackson, was born with a condition called posterior urethral valves, which can causes a patient’s kidneys to gradually lose function every year – until they stop working completely. He managed to avoid dialysis, but now, his best hope to stay healthy is to get a living kidney donor.
Trying to cling to any hope she could find, the mother took to Facebook to post her plea, to anyone who was listening and willing to donate a kidney. “This would be the very best gift we could ever receive,” Goll wrote.
To stay healthy, Jackson needed a living kidney donor with type O positive blood, and with as many matching antigens as possible. Family members checked to see if they were matches, as did people who reached out after seeing the Facebook post, which was shared more than 1400 times. However, no one matched up.
One month later, Kristi Goll’s Facebook post reached officer Lindsey Bittorf. Bittorf is an officer with the Milton Police Department, which is close to Jackson’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. Upon reading the post, the fellow mother and complete stranger to Kristi, and her family, took it upon herself to try and help Jackson.
Bittorf messaged Goll on Facebook, letting her know that she was beginning the process of testing to see if she would be a match for Jackson. Because of patient privacy laws, the Goll family couldn’t be notified about her progress.
“A mailed-in kit tested Lindsey’s blood type. Then, she spent an entire day getting blood drawn, scans, psychological consultations – all to make sure she would be a good donor for Jackson,” CNN reported.
Lindsey knows that if she were in Kristi’s place, she would also do anything to protect her children. “If the roles were reversed, and it were my kid, I would move hell and earth for my kid, too,” Bittorf said.
Finally, the most welcomed news any family could ask for arrived. Lindsey was a match for Jackson, and remarkably, matched three of the six antigens as well. Matching with a stranger is a rare occurrence.
“Because Jackson and his family were unaware of Bittorf’s test results, she decided to surprise them with the good news,” CNN reported. “One day in May, she worked with Jackson’s grandparents to lure Jackson and his mother over to their home. Bittorf showed up in uniform, and Goll was surprised when she found an officer standing outside the door, holding two wrapped presents.”
“Bittorf knew what she wanted to say to Jackson and his family, even before she found out she was a match. ‘I took an oath to serve and protect my community and now my kidney will serve and protect you,’ she said.”
Both surgeries were successful, but Jackson must get tested regularly throughout the year to make sure the kidney is adjusting to his body. Bittorf will get checked annually to make sure her remaining kidney is working well.
After the transplant, the families remained close. Kristi gives officer Bittorf rides to work, as she is unable to drive after her surgery. The two mothers text, and Jackson and Lindsey even share inside jokes.
“I tell him to hug me on my left side with his right side so I can feel whole again,” Bittorf jokes, as she pulls Jackson in for a hug.
Jackson says he promises he’ll take good care of her kidney.
Officer Bittorf’s drive to become a police officer mirrors her reason for helping Jackson – she simply wants to help people in any way she can.
“You don’t get to save everybody, but this is one life I can say that we got in front of and got to save,” she said.
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