"I just barely knew her when she made the offer," kidney recipient Don Thomas said
On Friday, Hooters waitress Mariana Villareal donated a kidney to Donald Thomas – a customer she has known for only three months.
“Mariana had only been here a short time,” Thomas told Atlanta’s 11 Alive. “I just barely knew her when she made the offer.”
The Roswell, Georgia, waitress’s grandmother was suffering from kidney failure when she met Thomas and learned that he was facing the same issue.
“Around the same time I met [Thomas], my grandmother was going through something similar, but I wasn’t able to help her and it will forever be in my heart,” she wrote on Instagram. “My higher calling maybe wasn’t for my grandma, but for a complete stranger.”
Villareal went on to describe Thomas as a Vietnam War veteran and father of two who lost his wife to breast cancer.
The pair underwent successful surgeries at the Piedmont Transplant Institute on Friday. “The kidney is a PERFECT match and is working amazingly!” Villareal wrote on Instagram after the surgery. “As for me, my kidney is working like there’s still 2 in there.”
Villareal said that she hopes her story will inspire others to become organ donors. Since she’ll be out of work for six weeks while she recovers from surgery, Villareal set up a GoFundMe to help compensate for lost income. “It was never my intention to have my story go on the news or go viral through out the world,” she wrote on the page. ” Believe me when I say I did this out of love.”
On Monday, Villareal posted a photo of Thomas preparing to go home from the hospital along with the caption, “He said he can’t wait to go back to Hooters.”