Mississippi grocery cashier to donate kidney to customer’s wife
PASCAGOULA — Workers at Wayne Lee’s Grocery and Market in Pascagoula take pride in the store’s small-town feel.
One of them said she felt so connected to her customers, she offered to donate her kidney to a woman suffering from kidney failure. It’s a life-changing moment the Drummond family said they’ll never forget.
Eddie Drummond is a man of routine. Everyday, he drives from Mobile, Alabama, to get to his job at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula. Before clocking in, he always stops by Wayne Lee’s Grocery for breakfast.
“I get here about five in the morning,” he said. “That’s the only place that’s open.”
He walks to the hometown market’s hot foods section and orders the usual: orange juice, grits, eggs, and sausage or bacon.
Employees said Eddie always greets them with a smile. So it caught the attention of the cashiers when he showed up one morning looking down in the dumps.
One of the women working asked him why he was so sad and he revealed the source of his despair.
“I said my wife wasn’t doing good on dialysis and she needed a kidney transplant,” he recalled.
That’s when the cashier said something he never expected to hear.
“I told him I’ll give her mine,” said Leilani Aguirre. “And he was shocked.”
Eddie’s wife of 32 years, Donnie Drummond, was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2015 and went through dialysis before doctors told her she needed a kidney transplant as soon as possible.
Donnie’s journey to a new kidney started one day when she went to the hospital after experiencing breathing difficulties for an entire day.
“Doctor said I got there just in time because I had a lot of fluid on my heart,” she said. “I could have died in my sleep.”
Hearing about her plight from Eddie, Leilani Aguirre didn’t hesitate before offering her own kidney to the ailing woman.
Eddie and Leilani teamed up to surprise Donnie with the news.
Aguirre stepped up to the plate and teamed up with Eddie to surprise Donnie with the news. And boy, was it a surprise when an unknown woman showed up on her doorstep, said Donnie.
“She said, ‘Is Eddie here?’ I said, ‘Who?’ She said ‘Eddie’. I said, ‘Baby, what do you want with my husband?'”
When Aguirre explained that she was there to donate her kidney, Donnie burst into tears and screamed with excitement.
The two turned out to be a perfect match with O-positive blood.
Aguirre said she reached out because she would want someone to do the same for her.
“What if it happens to me and I need a stranger to come help me?” she asked.
The Drummonds and the Aguirres grew closer by the day, even spending the recent holidays together. Two families became one through an incredible act of kindness that began in the checkout line at a small-town grocery store.
“You will always be a part of us because you put an extension of my wife’s life, and I can’t thank you enough,” Eddie told Aguirre.
Donnie said this whole experience felt like a breakthrough.
“I asked for a miracle blessing, and (God) sent it to me because He’s not done with me on this earth,” she said with a smile.
The kidney transplant is scheduled to take place later this spring at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.
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