Inspiration

Bonded in Blue: Police Officer Donates Kidney to Former Partner

“We already were-cop partners are forever ... To be able to help him was a wonderful gift for me too.”

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Police officers trust their partners with their lives, and that’s a bond that lasts forever. So when retired Maryland police officer Megan Ambrose learned her former partner Stanley Barsch needed a kidney, she didn’t hesitate to step up and give him one of hers!

Power of Love

“How ya doin’?” Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Officer Stanley Barsch greeted his former partner, Megan Ambrose, when they met for their regular diner lunch.

“I miss the action,” Megan confessed. “Almost as much as I miss my partner.”

Back when they had first met at the academy, Megan couldn’t stand the guy whose lack of conditioning led to extra calisthenics for the entire class. But after graduation, when they were teamed up on the same shift, Megan had discovered Stanley was actually a dedicated officer with excellent instincts. And as they patrolled the city together, Megan and Stanley had grown so close that they could finish each other’s sentences. They trusted each other with their lives. And that was a bond that would remain strong even after both would leave the force.

Neither Megan nor Stanley had planned on retiring early. But one day during a high-speed chase, a car cut off their squad car and Megan was seriously injured.

Stanley had jumped into the medivac copter alongside her. “You’re going to be fine,” he assured her as he held her hand the entire flight, then paced the waiting room until dawn with Megan’s husband, Chris.

It was six months before Megan returned to work, where she was restricted to desk duty. She tried to adjust to the new assignment, but she missed being in the field. And when she became pregnant with her first of two daughters, she decided to retire. Still, she and Stanley got together for occasional lunches and socialized on the weekends with Chris as well as Stanley’s wife, Jessica.

During one weekend visit with their families, “You look tired,” Megan remarked.

“Too much overtime,” Stanley groused, but Megan knew that wasn’t the whole story.

A gift of hope

Stanley’s mom had polycystic kidney disease, and years back, when he’d tried to donate a kidney, doctors discovered he’d inherited the condition. “It’s possible you could live your whole life without problems,” the doctor explained, and for several years he did. But Megan could see the stress and long hours on the job were taking their toll. And not long after…

“I filed my retirement papers,” Stanley told Megan.

And soon, she spotted his Facebook post that read: The doctor says I need a new kidney. A living donor would be best, but Jessica isn’t a match.

Megan’s heart ached for her old partner and her protective instincts kicked in.

He always had my back, and I will always have his, she vowed.

Stanley felt a surge of hope when nearly three dozen former colleagues answered the call. What he didn’t know was that Megan had insisted on being the first person tested.

Courtesy of Subject
Stanley was overcome when Megan told him she was a match

That Valentine’s Day, Megan invited Stanley and Jessica over for dinner. “Today is also National Donor Day,” Megan explained and, hugging her former partner who’d become like a big brother, she added, “You need a kidney, and I want to share my spare with my partner. I’ve had all the tests-I’m a 100% match.”

Stanley choked back tears. “Are you sure?”

“I won’t take no for an answer,” she said with a smile, hugging him again.

“Thank you,” Stanley said, amazed.

A few weeks later they had the procedure, which went very well. And the next day, when she visited Stanley’s room, he gave Megan a happy thumbs up, then exploded into nonstop conversation.

The old Stanley’s back, she beamed.

Stanley was also soon back to his new realtor career and being a hands-on dad to his three young boys. “All thanks to Megan,” he insists. “Thanks to her amazing gift, we are forever joined together.”

“We already were-cop partners are forever,” says Megan, who’s enrolling in nursing school. “To be able to help him was a wonderful gift for me too.” -Bill Holton

3 ways to support transplant patients —instantly!

  1. Shop this way! The next time you shop on Amazon, log on to Smile.Amazon.com with your regular Amazon user name and click “Get started.” From there, choose a charity, like the National Kidney Foundation, or search “organ donation” to opt for one of the hundreds of charities that support people in need of transplants, and Amazon will automatically donate .5 percent of every purchase you make to your charity of choice!
  2. Donate household goods! To help fund their research, the National Kidney Foundation has partnered with thrift stores across the country-and even opened some of their own. You can donate new or gently used household items like furniture, clothing and bedding to raise money to fight kidney disease. To find an organization near you, log on to DonationTown.org and enter your ZIP code — some even offer at-home pickup!
  3. Take an at-home test! Join the living donor registry from the comfort of home! Simply log on to BeTheMatch.org and click “Join.” Then click “Join the registry,” create an account and answer a few questions about your medical history. You’ll get a test kit in the mail, where you simply swab your cheek and send it back, and they’ll contact you if you’re a match!

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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