Work friendship leads to kidney donation

November 20, 2018 | GET MORE : Life

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This Thanksgiving, Debbie Haussler and Maria Wessel are grateful for each other. 

It’s been a long time since Debbie Haussler and Maria Wessel were just coworkers.

Over their 15 years of working together at U.S. Bank, their relationship has grown into what each describes as a sisterhood. 

So last year when Maria found out that Debbie’s husband Darryl needed a kidney transplant, she didn’t think twice about getting herself tested as a possible donor. Cautious not to raise false hope, she kept it to herself during the testing process. Then she learned that she was a perfect match, sharing the news with the Hausslers after service at their church.

“We all just started crying,” recalled Debbie. “Maria has such a love for life. The difference she is making in our lives by sharing it… How do you even say thank you?”

Debbie and Darryl have faced constant doctor visits, hospital trips and physical and emotional challenges over the past two years since Darryl was diagnosed with scleroderma, an incurable autoimmune disease that has severely impacted his lungs, heart, gastrointestinal tracts and kidneys. Despite finding a match in Maria, it took several months before the township police chief was healthy enough to undergo surgery. 

That day finally came on October 22. And nearly a month later, both are doing well in their recoveries. 

Maria and Darryl pictured at hospital right before surgery

“Darryl is a warrior. Throughout the sickness, his heart has continued to shine. You never hear him complain,” Maria said. “Honestly, it’s a blessing and an honor for me to help him.”

The mother of four said it was also an opportunity to give back to Debbie. Ten years prior, Maria had been going through a difficult time in her personal life. Debbie offered to simply sit down together for coffee. It turned out to be the right conversation, at the right time. “Debbie’s soul just radiated goodness,” Maria reflected.

Now with Thanksgiving coming up, both women are thankful for a relationship formed in the workplace. 

“I could never have perceived 15 years ago that our career together at U.S. Bank would cultivate such an amazing story of friendship, commitment and sacrifice,” said Debbie, “and I am eternally grateful to Maria.”

Written by Pat Swanson of U.S. Bank.