MANSFIELD - Kayre Tindall, 20, loves her "Pop-Pop," Ronald A. Jessup, so much she offered herself as a donor after learning he needed a new kidney to survive.
Tindall and her grandfather both underwent transplant surgery Thursday at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.
Tindall went in to have a kidney removed at 6 a.m., and Jessup's surgery followed about an hour later.
Both were described as doing well by Penny Gee, Tindall's mother.
Gee had offered to donate a kidney to her father a few years ago, but kidney stones delayed the operation, and doctors subsequently told her she could have future kidney problems and said they could not use her as the donor.
Jessup had been on dialysis for almost two years, Tindall said in a phone interview Wednesday.
According to Tindall, Jessup lost a kidney to cancer and then high blood pressure took its toll on the remaining kidney causing it to fail.
Tindall said when she found out her mother couldn't be a donor, she decided it was up to her to help her grandfather.
"I just felt like it was something I needed to do, but I had to beg him to let me start taking the test," she said.
"He wouldn't even let me talk to him about it at first," she said. "(But) I got tested in October, and on Dec. 15, his birthday, I was able to tell him the happy news."
The 19-year-old girlfriend of Tindall's brother Randy also got tested and was a match, but Kayre was a better match because she is a family member, Gee explained.
Even with people wanting to help him, Jessup was reluctant to take such a gift from his granddaughter, or anyone for that matter, Gee said.
"He didn't want someone to donate a kidney, didn't like the idea of taking a kidney from any of us," Gee said.
"(The family) finally convinced him he is responsible for us being here, and he is welcome to our stuff," Gee said, adding that - at 67 - her father is too young to check out before he ever gets to see his great granddaughter grow up.
"We aren't ready for him to go anywhere," Gee added.
Tindall said her grandfather had mixed emotions when he heard that his granddaughter was a match.
"He was really happy but scared at the same time," she said.
Jessup and Tindall's grandmother, Patricia, live in Galeton, she said.
Tindall works as a certified nurse's assistant at the Green Home in Wellsboro and had to get three months off from her job in order to save her grandfather's life.
However, her employers were "OK" with her decision and told her what she was doing was "awesome."
"The hospital told me if I had a desk job I could go back in six weeks, but because I work in a nursing home taking care of elderly, and all I do is lift and turn and pull, they told me I would need the entire three months," she added.
In another phone interview following the surgery Thursday, Gee said everything went fine.
Kayre was in a regular room, she said, and her father was in a private room.
"They have him on medicine that suppresses his immune system, so he has to be in his own room," she said
So far the prognosis is good for a full recovery for both her daughter and father, she said.
"I'm just glad it is over," Gee added. "It was very, very stressful."
Gee said she has been blown away by the number of messages she has received on Facebook.
"My phone has just been blown up by my Facebook page today with messages from people I don't even know telling me they are praying for me and my family," she said.
In addition, family friend Jackie Ogden of Covington is helping to organize a benefit brunch at the Wellsboro Moose on Feb. 25 to raise funds to help Tindall pay for her expenses while off work recuperating.
Tindall said she plans to attend the event.
For more information call Ogden at 404-0920.