BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Aaron Thorn used to stand for hours outside Bridgewater Shopping Center in Hamilton wearing a sign that read ‘Need Kidney 4 My Wife.'
He doesn’t need to do that anymore. In fact, Aaron has thrown the sign out. He did it the moment he and Keli, his wife of 22 years, learned at Good Samaritan Hospital they had found a perfect match.
“We’re just so glad we’re finally to this point now,” Aaron told FOX19 NOW Thursday.
“I believe at first we were just both in shock," Keli said. "Because someone who doesn’t even know us is willing to step forward and give a piece of them to help.”
Keli, a mother of four, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease more than a decade ago. Doctors told her in September 2019 she will need a kidney transplant “sooner than later.”
Aaron’s efforts to find his wife a kidney go back to that point, when he started a KidneyForKeli.com and donned the now-defunct sign.
The efforts circulated on social media and gained wider national attention thanks to news stories like the one FOX19 NOW produced in January.
Eventually they reached Cheyenne Frappier, a Pittsburg woman who saw a story about the Hamilton couple on her local news.
“Something with them was tugging on my heart like crazy,” Frappier said. “I was thinking of them every day.”
Frappier, who works in the medical field, says she contacted someone through the website Aaron had set up. She came to Cincinnati in March to meet with a surgeon and a transplant team.
“I went ahead and did the first couple steps,” she said. “I passed with flying colors, and we went on, and here I am.”
Aaron tears up speaking about it.
“Amazing, the thought that someone would do that... not only make the donations, but do that in the memory of their parents," he said. “It’s just overwhelming.”
Because transplants are a long process, the couple says they had no idea until June about the match. Then Frappier sent them a Facebook message. In the message, Frappier explained she wanted to be Keli’s donor because she had lost both her parents at a young age.
“So, knowing they have four little ones, they are all younger than I am,” Frappier said. “I am super happy to be able to help their mom and help their family along.”
Keli is thrilled to have a second chance at life.
“Wow, I don’t know that there’s words,” she said. “It’s just going to be great to feel better again.”
There is no date for the transplant right now, as Keli recently broke her ankle and it must heal before the surgery. The couple says they should know by the end of October.