WARD COUNTY, N.D. (KXNET) — Two Ward County Detention Center employees have new meaning in their lives. The two friends and co-workers now share an ever-lasting bond after coming together for a life-saving kidney swap.
At 30 years old, Carla Clifford was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease.
“That’s where your kidneys produce cysts, that end up overtaking your kidneys, and you slowly lose function of your kidneys. I went nine years with them growing and a lot of pain, and then I got down to 18% function. And then they put me on the kidney transplant list,” explained Carla Clifford, the program coordinator at Ward County Detention Center.
As a co-worker of five years, and mother herself, Ashley Harris couldn’t stand the thought of Carla not seeing her own children grow up.
“Our kids are in the same grade and the same class. So, as a mother of seven children, I would want to see all my kids grow up. And I wanted that for Carla, to see her youngest daughter grown up, to see her grandkids,” said Ashley Harris, a corporal at Ward County Detention Center.
Harris then went and got tested to see if she was a match for Clifford.
“I got the call two weeks later and they said Carla and I were a positive cross-match. So, I couldn’t donate to her. And they asked if I’d like to do the paired kidney donation program, which meant that I would donate my kidney to a complete stranger. And a complete stranger would donate their kidney to Carla. And I immediately said yes.” said Harris.
In December, both headed to The Mayo Clinic for their surgeries.
“Her kidney was flown to Pennsylvania, and then mine was flown from Pennsylvania to Rochester, Minnesota,” said Clifford.
What is a hard, life-changing decision for most, was an easy and rewarding one for Clifford.
“At Ward County you kind of become family, you work with your co-workers more than you see your family. It’s a community, a family,” said Clifford.
Clifford and Harris hope by sharing their story, others will be inspired to become part of the living donor program, and help save lives.
“The living donor, it’s an amazing program, you can help save somebody’s life. And it doesn’t have to be someone you know. It’s very rewarding knowing that I helped somebody,” said Harris.
Clifford is forever thankful for Harris’s life-saving kindness and has a new outlook on life.
“It was a shock. It was something like you can’t believe the kindness of somebody willing to do that. I feel great, better than I have in the last nine years. I woke up feeling amazing I have a whole new lease on life,” said Clifford.
Gofundme page to raise money for the woman’s surgeries