Prayer service connects man with kidney donor

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Heidi Houdek and David Young were strangers a few months ago attending different services at Joy Lutheran Church in Gurnee.

Church can be a place of healing, and Pastor Al Caldwell has prayed with these two members of Joy Lutheran Church in Gurnee many times.

Heidi Houdek and David Young were strangers a few months ago attending different services. But in May, Young shared with members he needed a kidney transplant.

"We were kind of running out of options and dialysis takes its toll," Young said.
A prayer service was called for Young - something he said he's never been a part of. It's also where Houdek said she felt called to help.

"The love amongst all of us coming towards me, yeah, it definitely moves you," Young said.

"I had this strange feeling that I knew I was going to be a match for him," Houdek said.

Houdek went through the testing to see if she was a match secretly, not wanting David and his family to get their hopes up. After all, there are over 100,000 people on the national transplant waiting list for kidneys. But, she was a match!

"A big huge hug and just, it was awesome," Young said.

"I just couldn't think of any reason why I couldn't do it. This could save his life," Houdek said.

"To step forward and reach out to someone who you know peripherally but not initially well is an amazing thing," said Dr. John Friedewald, medical director of kidney transplantation at Northwestern Medicine.

They are both recovering well from the transplant procedure in October with support from people at their church, including the quilt ministry. Every knot on their quilts represents a prayer.

"There has always been a feeling that God or a higher power has been there right along with me this whole time," Young said.

"How often do you get the opportunity to do this for somebody?" Houdek said through tears.

This Christmas, two church members are grateful for this divine connection that allows David and his family a good prognosis.

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