After five years of letters and phone calls, Alan McDermott and his wife, Lynda, sat inside Williamsburg Community Chapel waiting for a special meeting. Alan heard someone coming down the hall. “Hey,” he said. “I’d recognize that voice anywhere.”
That voice was Debbie Todd, the mother of the man who gave Alan a second chance at life. Debbie’s son, Shane, was a 24-year-old Virginia Tech student who worked for IBM. He was a kind and handsome young man who loved golf and computers. It appeared Shane had a bright future. Sadly, he lost his life in a car accident in August 2015.
Ironically, it was a car accident seven years prior that put Alan on the path toward needing a kidney. Having to be on dialysis was life-shattering. He couldn’t go anywhere and didn’t want to socialize. To make matters worse, his rare blood type made it difficult to be matched for a transplant. By 2015, it appeared there was no hope. Dialysis wasn’t working anymore, and Alan had a few weeks to live. His wife and mother-in-law were on their way to church to pray when they received a call from Alan. “Turn around,” he said. “We are going to Charlottesville!”
They got in the car to make the 300-mile trip to the University of Virginia for Alan’s transplant. He was so anxious, he kept insisting they call ahead to ensure they would make it on time. In the end, Shane’s incredible gift saved Alan’s life. His health has improved tremendously since then. As a result, he got to watch his kids grow up and is enjoying life again.
Alan and Lynda were in Williamsburg, Va., vacationing when they realized it was the perfect opportunity to finally meet Debbie, who lives just an hour away.
Debbie brought along her niece, Shanen, who is named after the late cousin who was like a brother to her. When asked what gives her hope, Debbie said, “Knowing Shane lives on through others.”
As an organ and tissue donor, Shane has helped 129 people. Debbie and Alan always believed in donation, but this experience has made them big advocates. “When I go over to the other side I hope I see Shane, and the first thing I will do is give him a big hug,” Alan said.