In honor of today being Best Friends Day, we reached out to our friends Liz Casperite and Maria Weaver to learn more about how their transplant journey brought them closer together. Philadelphia Chapter Education Coordinator Liz has PKD and was listed for a kidney transplant in 2013. Maria knew a friend who was a living kidney donor but didn’t know Liz. A mutual friend posted on Facebook about Liz’s need for a transplant, and a lifelong friendship was born. Liz and Maria had their transplant surgery on Sept. 17, 2015. Read the Q&A below to hear more about their story and connection:
At what point during our transplant journey did you realize we could become friends? Was there something in particular that led you to make this connection?
Liz Casperite: I knew the first time we spoke on the phone that we could be friends. I immediately asked Maria if she would come to DC and lobby Congress with me. When she said yes, I knew we would click.
Maria Weaver: We met in person about six weeks after I responded to the initial post, when we went to UMMC for donor education/evaluation day. I clearly remember thinking, ‘It feels like we knew each other forever,’ after spending just a few hours together. My husband was along and felt it, too. Definitely a special connection that was meant to be.
How well did we keep in touch during the evaluation process? How did sharing those milestones bring us together?
LC: The first time I met Maria was when I picked her up for a road trip to Baltimore for her Donor Evaluation Day. From that day on, we were in constant contact. Maria called to tell me every test result right away, usually before my transplant coordinator. In the two months between our first meeting and transplant, we lobbied Congress and were on TV to promote organ donation. We became very close. This is an experience few people get to share.
MW: I think we texted or called each other almost daily from the time I got my initial test kit in the mail. It was a unique friendship from the start, as I was learning about Liz’s life and her family as I was going through the process and learning about PKD and living donation. Every step felt like a little victory, a step closer to giving her my kidney.
What do you remember the most about meeting each other for the first time?
LC: I remember all the things we had in common. Our families love sci-fi, we like rocks, crystals and the metaphysical. We are both vocal, and love to learn and teach.
MW: I remember how instantly comfortable we were with each other. I also remember how Liz told absolutely everyone, from the doorman to the waitress, “She’s trying to give me a kidney,” and they’d inevitably ask questions and get a short lesson on donation. It’s rare for someone to be more outgoing than me, so this was impressive and awesome to me!
How has our friendship grown since the transplant?
LC: We are family now. Maria is my Kidney Sister. We see each other at holidays, we have been to lobby Congress three times, and we have participated in charity walks and the Transplant Games. We will always be a part of each other.
MW: Well, it has grown exponentially. There’s no feeling I’ve ever experienced like seeing her color, her health change overnight because of my donation. We are connected in a very physical way as well as emotional now. Also, her entire family is a part of my life and vice versa. We have really lived a lifelong, intense friendship in just under 3 years.
How are you honoring your best friend today? Share your story in the comments below!