by Michael Dukes
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
3/24/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A
Reserve Airman with the 315th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston did
something to start her New Year that she never imagined she'd be in a
position to do - she saved someone's life.
By an interesting series of events Master Sgt. Stephanie Kimbrell,
logistics plans craftsman with the 315th Logistics Readiness Squadron,
donated one of her kidneys to David Harvill, a public health specialist
with the 628th Medical Group on the Joint Base suffering from stage 5
Kimbrell said she was watching an episode of a television show where one
of the characters experienced a kidney injury. The character had to
have one of her kidneys removed and was placed on dialysis.
"The fact that she could not get a friend or family member to donate
broke my heart," Kimbrell said. "I had no idea how difficult it was for
people with kidney disease."
"I got up from my show with tears running down my face and through a
stuffy nose told God that if he needed my kidney I would give it up in
his name. That I wasn't afraid of donating it to someone that I knew
could use it," she said.
Several months later she called the Medical University of South Carolina
Transplant Center, but there was no answered. Frustrated, Kimbrell said
she walked into the office of her boss, Lt. Col. Bobby Degregorio,
315th LRS commander, and sat down.
"What's on your mind waterbug?" Degregorio asked her. To which Kimbrell
told him how she felt she needed to donate her kidney to someone.
"Are you serious?" Degregorio said while raising his eyebrows. "I
literally just found out today that one of my friends who works over in
the Medical Group is dying and needs a kidney.
Without hesitation Kimbrell replied, "Let's do it."
Degregorio told his friend Harvill about the potentially good news and the process was set in motion.
"Periodically, Stephanie would e-mail me updating where she was in the
process," Harvill said. Although doctors told Kimbrell the chances were
one in a million for a perfect match, she remained confident.
Kimbrell began the pre-donation testing and matching process to determine if she was healthy enough and if she was a match.
Harvill said that he got a message to call Degregorio who told him
excitedly, "'Super Dave' you're not going to believe this! Stephanie is a
match. You are getting your kidney."
"I was so overcome by emotions I was speechless and broke down," Harvill
said. "All I wanted to do was call Stephanie; however, I had no phone
number as we had always e-mailed."
Anxious to know when the procedure would take place, Kimbrell called
MUSC and the date was scheduled for Jan. 22. Kimbrell and Harvill
decided to have a family get together for dinner the night before
At dinner that night they talked about how this all came about.
"I shared my story with them about how I felt God wanted me to donate to
someone and when I knew Mr. Harvill was the one I was at complete peace
about how this was going to go," Kimbrell said.
"We all cried and Mr. Harvill shared how difficult his life had been
being on dialysis and knowing eventually he would succumb to this
disease if he didn't find a kidney," She said.
When she heard him talk and cry about his ordeal, Kimbrell was deeply
moved. "Then it suddenly hit me... oh man, I am actually saving this
"I often thought about Stephanie and how special a person she was,
willing to donate and how special a person she was, willing to donate a
kidney to a complete stranger," Harvill said. "In talking with the
Living Donor Transplant Coordinator, this doesn't occur as often as one
might think. Most people receive a cadaver kidney or know their donor."
The donation procedure was a complete success and during the recovery
process at the hospital, Kimbrell and Harvill visited each other daily.
To date, Harvill said both he and Kimbrell are doing well and their
families contact each other regularly.
"I don't really think what I did was heroic, I kind of feel like I was
just being obedient to God and what he wanted," Kimbrell said. "I see
how I have changed Mr. Harvill's life but what people don't see is that
he really changed my life for the better too. He is a wonderful person
who I now have the privilege of calling family."
"To this day, neither I nor my family can do enough to repay Stephanie
for her unselfish act of giving me, a complete stranger, a new kidney
and the 'gift of life,'" Harvill said. "How many of you could do what
she has done? Could you actually give a complete stranger a kidney?"