Two Puppies Unite a Transplant Patient and Her Donor

They already shared a bond, but Chipper and Archie made them friends.

every gift saves lives

every gift saves lives

Sue + Chipper, Archie

I wanted to adopt a dog for a long time, but I faced an unexpected medical crisis: I was on dialysis and seeking a kidney donor. My sister created a Facebook campaign to help me find a donor, which miraculously turned up a perfect match. A complete stranger was willing to save my life! The transplant took place in January 2017 and so far it has been successful, giving me a new lease on life.

"Apparently, my kidney donor and I have more than a blood type in common; her reaction to Archie was identical to mine when I saw Chipper. "

But the miracle matches don’t stop there. I was browsing Facebook during my recovery from transplant surgery and saw a photo on the Oakland Animal Services (OAS) news feed of a little jet-black puppy named Kuro and his littermate Yin Yang. Both had been diagnosed with parvovirus after arriving at OAS. Treating this deadly disease costs approximately $2,500 per puppy and requires isolation from other animals. Friends of Oakland Animal Services (FOAS), the non-profit that supports OAS, agreed to pay the treatment costs if foster homes could be found to care for the dogs during their recovery.

When I saw the photo of Kuro with his soulful eyes and yearning look, I knew instinctively that we were meant for each other. I contacted OAS and took him home to foster. We bonded because we both had to be quarantined: Kuro for parvovirus, and me for the high doses of immunosuppressant drugs I was on after my transplant. Within a matter of hours I fell in love and decided to adopt Kuro. I renamed him Chipper (because he is such a chipper little guy!).

Paying my good fortune forward, I shared the OAS’s Facebook post about Chipper’s littermate, who was also being treated for parvovirus. Apparently, my kidney donor and I have more than a blood type in common; her reaction to Yin Yang (later renamed Archie) was identical to mine when I saw Chipper. She was immediately drawn to his scruffy little black and white face, and after fostering him for a few hours, she also fell in (puppy) love.

My kidney donor saved my life. In turn, we saved the lives of two puppies who have created even more of a forever bond between us.
Since then, Chipper and Archie have not just changed our lives for the better, but also for thousands of other people and animals in need. The four of us have been spreading the word about saving lives through both kidney donation and pet adoption. Two local news stations have already shared ourstory and my donor was recently honored as a “Hometown Hero” at a sold out Oakland Raiders game!

The final twist to our story was when we learned from Friends of Oakland Animal Services that Chipper and Archie were born on January 12th, 2017—the very same day of our transplant surgery! Was it destiny? Yes, I believe it was.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Sue Reale won Friends of Oakland Animal Services in California a 2017 Holiday Wishes award.