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Two women in Ocala, become “kidney sisters” as husband’s new wife donates her kidney to his ex-wife

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - This isn’t a love story but it’s a story of two women that are now bonded together for life.

“I believe it is a miracle that it all worked out, but when you look back on it was the most amazing thing in my whole life,” said Debby Neal-Strickland.

On November 22 Debby Neal-Strickland and Jim Strickland were celebrating getting married.

Two days later Debby was in a hospital gown donating her kidney to her new husband’s ex-wife Mylaen.

“November 24th which was two days after my wedding date plan, I think it all just rolled together perfectly that it was god’s intention that it all worked out that way,” said Debby.

Mylaen Merthe has had chronic kidney disease for more than 30 years, but in the last three years her kidney function started decreasing.

“Just within the last year, my function went from 20 something percent to 10% to 8% like within weeks. and if I didn’t have Debby for a living donor I probably would have been on dialysis and you just don’t know what would happen,” said Merthe.

Mylaen’s daughter was a perfect match but she was five months pregnant, and her brother and friends got tested but no one tested as high as Debby.

“Debby’s a very giving person so I knew that if she was a match she would go with it. it’s very important for my ex-wife to be around because she’s the mother of my two children and grandmother of our grandkids,” said Jim Strickland.

Mylaen felt so blessed for Debby giving her a new lease on life to share her love with her kids and grandkids.

“If you’re in a place where you hear someone say they need a kidney you’re probably meant to hear that and you need to be tested,” said Debby.

Now they’re bonded forever.

“I never had a sister and now I have a kidney sister and she never had a sister and now she has a kidney sister. It’s brought us closer together. and we’re bonded for life.”

Mylaen and Debby both said they’re excited about a brighter future.

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