Mom Donates Kidney to the Firefighter Who Helped Save Her Baby Girl's Life

Becca Bundy and Bill Cox
Kare 11

A mom from Minnesota has given the ultimate thank you gift to the stranger who saved the life of her little girl. Becca Bundy first met Bill Cox a few years ago on one of the scariest days of her life. Bill was the firefighter who responded to a 911 call at her home and helped as her young daughter was having a seizure. Two years later, the pair reconnected at a bar where Cox was working, and it was there that Bundy learned that Cox was in kidney failure and needed a donor. “I just said, ‘I'm the one and I know it,'" she explained.

  • Two years ago, Cox was a volunteer firefighter who was the first person at the scene when Bundy's daughter Hadley had a seizure.

    When Bundy's then 1-year-old daughter Hadley had the attack, Cox was the first one there, and it's something her grateful mom has never forgotten. "He seemed to care; it wasn’t just another call,” she told Kare 11.

    “I got there and helped settle people down until an ambulance could get there and take care of her,” Cox said to CNN.

    But the mom remained indebted to the stranger who helped save her child's life.

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  • The two later ran into each other at a bar where Cox was bartending, but it was the T-shirt he was wearing that caught Bundy's eye.

    In October 2018, Bundy walked by chance into the Viking Bar, where Cox was working at the bar. That night, he was wearing a bright green T-shirt on his shift, which had a unique message the mom couldn't help but notice.

    "My Name is Bill," it read. "I'm in end stage KIDNEY FAILURE And in need of a KIDNEY."

    Cox had been placed on the transplant list in 2017 because he was only born with one kidney and it was failing, CNN noted. In January he started dialysis, but a donor was still desperately needed. That is why he came up with the idea for his T-shirt; he had made two of them and wore them to work every day hoping someone would see them and give him the life-saving organ he needed.

    In the past, four or five people had seen his shirt and offered to donate their kidneys, but they were never a match.

    The two started chatting at the bar, and Bundy realized that she had the same blood type as Cox, which is when she realized it was time to repay the life-saving favor and thank him for his kindness.

    "This is what started the journey. I remember telling Bill throughout my testing at one point that I knew I was the one," she explained to Kare 11. “I thought that was a way I could certainly say thank you." 

    "She was a perfect match for me," he said.

    The mom called Cox as soon as she learned she was a match, and they both broke out in tears. "I can remember us both crying -- tears of joy of course -- and Bill thanking me," Bundy recalled.

  • The two successfully had their transplant surgery in February, which has completely changed Cox's life.

    The surgery was performed at the University of Minnesota Medical Center by Dr. Raja Kandaswamy, who explained how rare it was that Cox had a viable donor. More than 100,000 people are waiting for kidney donors and the list continues to grow every year. "So there was an urgency for him to find a live donor, because the waiting time for an organ to come from a deceased donor could be five to seven years in Minnesota," Kandaswamy explained. 

    "There was a sense of urgency to get a transplant because a 66-year-old on dialysis does not do well long-term on dialysis," he added. "The mortality is high once they remain on dialysis for a few years."

    But since receiving Bundy's kidney, Cox is dialysis free. "Since then, he hasn't looked back," Kandaswamy said. "He has great energy level, he's back to woodcarving and being a voluntary firefighter and a first responder."

    He has also returned to his log lake retirement home with his wife, Terry, and both Cox and Bundy acknowledge that the incredible surgery has bonded them for life. 

    "We continue to speak on a regular basis and do our best to get together as often as we can," Bundy explained to CNN.

    And it seems that these two families have truly become one. Bundy is a softball coach at North Woods School, and the Coxes have been known to show up to her games to support her. The older couple has also taken to hanging artwork by Bundy's children on their fridge. "We don’t have any grandchildren," he explained.

    Cox even gave Bundy a special present days before their surgeries: an angel he carved out of wood. "Yep, she’s an angel,” he said, and Bundy agreed that the feeling was mutual. 

    “I feel pretty blessed to be chosen to be on his journey with him,” she said with tears in her eyes. “It is that lifetime bond that will never go away."

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