Fort Worth

Kidney Recipient and Donor Already Shared a Special Connection

Color, a cut and a kidney connect a hairstylist and her client

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Shelly Wheaton's hair appointment with her stylist, Andrea Newsom, takes on a new meaning today. Newsom has done Wheaton’s hair for nearly 20 years.

On a Wednesday, one month ago, both women were wheeled into surgery at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Wheaton was suffering from polycystic kidney disease, or PKD. Tumors were shutting down her kidneys.

Newsom gave her the gift of life by donating one of her kidneys.

"I call her my kidney sista,” kidney recipient Shelly Wheaton said. “You can't help but feel that bond and the gratitude I have in my heart for Andrea."

The journey hasn't been easy. Wheaton started a search for a living kidney donor, or hero as the window applique on the back of her car said. Wheaton didn’t realize her hero does her hair.

“There are not words to tell somebody how much you appreciate the fact they gave you a second chance at life," Wheaton said.

"I feel like I've just been carrying her kidney for years,” Newsom said. “It was just housed here."

Newsom said the moment she heard of Wheaton's battle she knew she would be the donor.

But she took time to discuss it with her husband and family before she made the final decision.

"My honor and my pleasure,” an emotional Newsom said while she wiped away tears. “It has been an absolute blessing to be part of this journey. It's been a gift to me."

Now, Wheaton has changed the message on the back of her car from a plea for help to a thank you note.

"It's in the shape of a Christmas tree,” Wheaton said. “It talks about the gift of life a present you can't find underneath the tree. The gift of life and that's what Andrea gave me for Christmas the gift of life."

A hairstylist, or hero, helping her client be beautiful on the outside, and healthy on inside.

Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth has done about 2,000 transplants this year -- those included kidney, liver and pancreas.

To learn more about becoming a living organ donor click here.

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