70-year-old kidney donor, recipient members of same church

HOUSTON – Judy Peters and Ann Hammermiller have a lot in common.

They go to the same church and heard the same plea from their pastor.

"Our pastor announced that he was going on a kidney transplant list," Peters said.

Peters, 70, felt so compelled to donate her organ that even when her pastor was matched with someone else's kidney, she kept offering to her friend, Hammermiller.

Peters said she asked Hammermiller if she had gotten on the list and Hammermiller said yes. She then asked Hammermiller if her grandson had been tested yet. 

Hammermiller said, "We didn't know that the family could not give because it's a possibility he could have the same thing and therefore it wasn't a good idea."

Although Hammermiller's grandson had offered to donate a kidney to her, it would put him at risk if he only had one kidney and came down with the same hereditary disease that was making her kidneys stop functioning.

A few months later, the women went in for the kidney transplant operation with Houston Methodist Hospital, Dr. A. Osama Gaber, director of transplantation at the hospital, who says even he was surprised.

"It's not common that people come in knowing that they are already matched, and it's not common that people at this age would donate, “Gaber said. "So, it was a very pleasant surprise that they actually did match, and the donor was healthy enough to donate, and I thought that was really the right thing to do."

The operation was in September. All went well, and the women say they never felt like it wouldn't.

"I didn't think about that, and I didn't think about the fact that it was surgery. That is not where my head was and my heart, and it didn't matter, it didn't matter it was an awesome journey," Peters said.

Peters is in her 70s. Gaber says they're finding out when it comes to kidneys, nobody is too old to donate. He says it is safer if the donor is older, because their lifespan with only one kidney is not as long.