April 18 was a transformative day in the lives of two UCC-related Carolina SeniorCare employees and their families. That’s when Robert Miller, dining services supervisor at the United Church Homes and Services community in Lexington, N.C., donated a kidney to save the life of Romona Howard, wife of co-worker David Howard.
Romona Howard had been on the kidney transplant list for two years, waiting for a new organ to replace the ones ravaged by complications from diabetes. While the entire food services team had been supportive of the Howards, Miller could feel time slipping by.
“I was having a hard time believing no one would step forward for the kidney transplant,” says Miller. “I could not shake it. The thought remained on my mind.”
So Miller decided to get tested. “Being a person that avoids the doctor and hates needles, this was a huge step for me,” he says. “On the day of the test, 13 others were being tested. Of the 13, I was the only match!”
David Howard was ecstatic — he couldn’t believe Miller had passed the many tests and exams. “Words cannot express my heartfelt feelings and compassion,” Howard says. “When a co-worker is willing to make this sacrifice to improve the quality of life for another, even someone who he has never met, it is God’s love at work.”
Miller says he just listened to God’s call. “This is so out of character for me,” he says, “but I believe in God’s direction and I believe donating a kidney is what I am meant to do. I am confident in my decision.”
Appropriately, April is National Donate Life Month. The National Kidney Foundation reports that every 14 minutes, someone is added to the kidney transplant list. Today, more than 95,000 people in the United States need a kidney transplant.
David Howard says he is grateful for the caring support he and his wife have received. “Now I know why God placed me at Carolina SeniorCare,” he says. “The entire Carolina SeniorCare team has been supportive in working with us to make this happen, including temporarily filling our positions while the surgery and the recovery continue. We are family here.”
That family feeling was evident as April 18 approached. Everyone at Carolina SeniorCare was with Miller and Howard in spirit, says Joy Cline, chief marketing director for United Church Homes and Services, cheering for healing, hope, and love of one another.
According to a statement released by both families, “The successful kidney transplant took place on April 18.” The families will spend the next 6 weeks healing and recovering from surgery. The statement thanked the entire Carolina SeniorCare staff for its caring support.
“Robert’s heart is full of grace and love of mankind,” reflects Cline. “He and David have set an exemplary example of love of neighbor. May this be an inspiration for all of us.”
Carolina SeniorCare serves seniors in the North Carolina counties of Davidson, Rowan, Davie and Iredell. Carolina SeniorCare is under the sponsorship of United Church Homes and Services (UCHS), a not-for-profit ministry offering senior housing and services for more than 47 years, located in Newton, NC.