Kidney donor "just knew" she would be a match for stranger | Families
Twenty-four year old cheerleading coach Matt McCallum doesn’t have to wait any longer for a kidney.
McCallum has suffered from damaged kidneys since age 7 and experienced total kidney failure at age 21. He has been on dialysis for nearly four years, but today, Nov. 11, all that changes with a kidney donation from a surprising source—the wife of the co-owner of the gym where McCallum works.
Gadsden resident Kelley Zeringue first met McCallum at a staff retreat in May. Zeringue’s husband, JR, is a co-owner of ACE Cheer Company which bought the gym where McCallum was working as a coach. Soon after learning that McCallum was on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, Kelley felt strongly that she could be a match. She shared her gut feeling with her husband and within a week of meeting McCallum, Kelley went to a hospital to be tested as a possible donor. A video produced about the donor match says, “Kelley knew she was a match before she was tested. She just knew.”
After the initial two tests showed Kelley to be a positive match for McCallum, she told him and his wife Brittany that she was being tested and hoped to be a perfect match. Four months later, the results were confirmed and the two began preparing for the Nov. 11 surgery by undergoing more tests and raising funds for the procedure. Kelley’s costs will be completely covered by the Kidney Donor Fund, but McCallum’s costs are not covered at all and are estimated to be $200,000.
On Oct. 17, ACE Cheer hosted a Meet the Tribe exhibition at Hoover High School and collected donations at the door totaling $7,200. JR Zeringue spoke at the event and introduced both McCallum and his wife to the crowd of cheerleaders and coaches. The founder of philanthropic organization Cheer for a Cause, Julie Bolton, filmed the event and produced a video to share the story, which you can view above.
“After waiting four years, I’m finally going to get a kidney, thanks to my ACE family,” McCallum says in the video.
The kidney transplant operation is happening at the Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, TN. On the Praying for Matt McCallum & Kelley Zeringue Facebook page, JR Zeringue posted that his wife’s operation start time was 1:37 p.m. Nov. 11. The group page is filled with encouraging comments and Bible verses from friends and family of both patients who are waiting to hear results. JR Zeringue and his sons are posting updates on the surgery on the web page, including the photo of Kelley wheeling beside Matt in the hallway as he prepares for surgery.
To learn more about the fund to support McCallum's kidney transplant, visit Acetribe.com. A direct link on their homepage allows you to donate through PayPal directly to the Matt McCallum Kidney Transplant Fund. To date the fund has raised $8,190, according to Bolton. For more information, click here.