‘Miracle’ as Uber driver donates kidney to stranger after being called to pick him up from hospital
- Bill Sumiel, 73, was picked up from a dialysis centre by Tim Letts in October 2021
- He was in desperate need of transplant, but didn’t expect his driver to make offer
- Read more: Man, 54, develops kidney failure after taking too much vitamin D
A kindhearted Uber driver donated his kidney to a complete stranger he was driving home from the hospital – giving him the ‘gift of life’.
Tim Letts, 33, was working for the app in Cape May County, New Jersey, in 2021 when he was asked to pick up Bill Sumiel from a dialysis centre at Christiana Hospital.
Mr Sumiel, 73, had been in desperate need of a kidney transplant for three years, having suffered from kidney failure after developing diabetes a decade earlier.
On his way home to Salem, he told Army veteran Mr Letts of his plight – but didn’t expect the Uber driver to offer him a kidney if the pair were a match.
‘About halfway home after talking the whole way and slowly becoming friends, Tim tells me that “I think God must have put you in my car”‘, Mr Sumiel tells ABC6 News.
Tim Letts, 33, was working for the app in Cape May County, New Jersey, in 2021 when he was asked to pick up Bill Sumiel from a dialysis centre at Christiana Hospital
‘He says, “If you’ll take my name and number, I’ll give a kidney to you.” I was shaking so hard I couldn’t even write down his name and number.’
In order for a transplant to be successful, the two parties must have compatible blood typing, tissue typing and cross-matching. Blood tests can usually determine this.
Thankfully this was the case, and the operation at Christiana Hospital was a success.
The pair have now become lifelong friends, with Mr Sumiel describing his Uber ride two years ago as a ‘miracle’.
Mr Sumiel, 73, had been in desperate need of a kidney transplant for three years, having suffered from kidney failure after developing diabetes a decade earlier
Mr Letts has since moved to Germany, but plans to keep in contact with Mr Sumiel
He said: ‘Giving a kidney is the gift of life and I feel so fortunate to have that gift. I can almost live my life back to normal, and this work (at the University of Delaware’s Exercise clinic for renal rehab) is getting me closer to that every day.
‘I know miracles have happened in the past. Maybe they never happened to me, maybe they have. But now I really have those beliefs reinforced.’
Mr Letts has since moved to Germany, but plans to keep in contact with Mr Sumiel.
He told Town Square Delaware that he had planned to head over to see friends after dropping the then-71-year-old back at home in October 2021.
The former Uber driver said: ‘I didn’t want to look in the mirror later down the road and think, “Wow, man, you suck. You could have done something and you didn’t, because you talked yourself out of it or because you let other people talk you out of it.”
‘Good people need good people to stand by them, and don’t call yourself a good person if you’re not willing to stand by another good person.’
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