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Retired central Pa. teacher says kidney donor now 'a part of our family'

Written by Jasmine Vaughn-Hall/The York Daily Record | Nov 5, 2018 8:55 PM
Lindsay Wenrich kidney donor.jpg

Lindsay Wenrich donated her kidney to George Labecki on Oct. 26. (Photo: Submitted)

You may recall a heartfelt story that stemmed from a video of a Nittany Lion mascot delivering life-saving news to a retired Cedar Cliff teacher at his New Cumberland home.

On Oct. 7, Lindsay Wenrich dressed up as Penn State's mascot to tell George Labecki, an university alumni, that she was donating her kidney to him. 

The 34-year-old of Harrisburg saw Labecki's call for a kidney through a Facebook post shared on a mutual friend's page. 

Their surgery was on Oct. 26, and while Wenrich, 34, has since ditched the lion costume, she and George Labecki's post-operative health so far have been a roaring success. 

"The surgery was extremely successful. I'm fortunate to have a kidney donor that was so healthy and [she] produced a kidney that was really exceptional," Labecki said. 

As painful as those first few steps were immediately after the surgery, it didn't stop Wenrich from moseying up to Labecki's room to see how he took to her kidney. 

"It was emotional...He looked like a brand-new person," Wenrich said. 

The two of them have kept in contact every day following the surgery. 

"She's become a part of our family, and we'll always be that way," Labecki said.

Labecki, 63, will have to regularly take immunosuppressants, antibacterial, and anti-fungal medications, but he says it's an extremely small price to pay. 

Wenrich, an agent for the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General, won't be able to play full contact sports for the rest of her life, but she normally only participates in flag football. 

Labecki's and Wenrich's story was so touching, it received coverage from multiple media outlets, including "Good Morning America." 

Community members even started a meal train to help Labecki, Wenrich and their spouses who are caring for them. 

Speaking of spouses, Wenrich celebrated her 8th wedding anniversary on Oct. 30. 

George and Lindsay.jpg

Lindsay Wenrich and George Labecki underwent surgery for a kidney transplant on Oct. 26. (Photo: Submitted)

After he recovers, Labecki intends to assist others in need of a donor by sharing his story and helping them with "the ask."

"I think there's an art to making a good ask, and I would certainly be willing to talk to people about that," Labecki said. 

Wenrich looks forward to participating in fundraiser walks that support nonprofit organizations with an organ donation focus. 

Recently, Pennsylvania modified the statewide organ donor laws, which haven't received an update in nearly 20 years, according to a news release. 

Act 90 of 2018 will "work to provide more access to organ donation, including tissue donation, as well as public education about the donation process and the importance of organ donation." 

Neither Labecki or Wenrich expected their story to get the range that it did, but they're thrilled that a pure act of selflessness and extreme gratitude became widespread. 

 

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record.

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