For best friends Breanna Sipple and Erin Francis, their bond began with a life-saving gesture made when they were only strangers.
The two are behind the Instagram page Team BeMore, which serves as a hub for organ donors, recipients and people in need of a transplant.
The friends were inspired to start the page after Sipple donated her kidney to Francis after seeing a social media post Francis’ husband Rich had written about her needing a life-saving transplant, according to WPVI. At the time, the did not know each other.
Francis, who was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease when she was 4, found out the disease had advanced into stage 5 kidney failure in 2016. She was in desperate need of a kidney donor, and she and her family turned to Facebook for help.
That’s when Sipple came across the post detailing what Francis was facing.
“Something just came over me, and I was just like, crying and I knew that I was this person’s donor,” Sipple told WPVI.
Unbeknownst to Francis, Sipple volunteered to be tested to find out if she was a viable candidate, but was rejected months into the process because she had high blood pressure.
She documented the journey in an emotional video diary, which was how Francis learned that Sipple was fighting to help her.
It was that video that planted the seeds of their friendship.
“Even today, I think about it all the time,” Francis told WPVI. “I can’t believe someone actually wanted to do that for me.”
Despite the setback, the Sipple was not deterred, and underwent another round of testing at a different hospital. This time around, doctors said she was fit to be a donor, the outlet reported.
The two underwent successful kidney operations in September 2017.
“Our journey has just begun,” they wrote in an Instagram post at the time. “We have so much more heart and encouragement to share in this world.”
There are more than 100,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list at any time in the United States, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Over 3,000 people are added to the list each month, and 13 people die each day while waiting for a transplant.
There is also a need for other organ transplants, and volunteering to become a living — or deceased — donor can help many in need.
About 20 people die per day awaiting organ transplants, according to the American Transplant Foundation, and there are over 114,000 people currently on the waiting list to receive a life-saving organ. One donor can save up to eight lives, the foundation says, and can save or enhance the lives of a hundred others.
“It’s okay to be scared,” Sipple told WPVI. “But it’s going to be the most amazing journey of your entire life. So, take the leap.”
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