Lifestyle & Human Interest

Years After Divorce, Grandmother Donates Kidney To Save Ex-Husband's Life


In many situations, divorce leads to two people who do as much as possible to avoid or forget one another. There may be bad blood, past grievances or unresolved differences that make communication painful at best.

Mary Zeigler and Bill Henrichs are great examples of how amicable a split can be. High school sweethearts, the two were married at 18 after knowing each other for four years.

Together they had a son and a daughter, but after a little over two decades, Mary and Bill agreed that it would be best for them to go their separate ways.

“We grew up together,” Zeigler told Inside Edition. “We were always really good friends. It sounds kind of weird, but now I almost feel like he’s my brother because we’ve known each other so long.”

“When you’re 18, you’re one person. And when you’re 40, you’re an entirely different person. That’s what happened to us. We got older and we became totally different people.”

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“I care for him, still. Our divorce was friendly. A good share of it was for my kids and my grandkids that we have together. And his (second) wife.”

The two still talk regularly, even when Bill got remarried to a woman named Linda. “Linda came into the picture and I will say it the rest of my life — I thank God for her coming into our life,” Zeigler said.

“That pretty much sums it up,” Zeigler admitted. “That he never left our family and Linda joined it.”

Bill has been struggling with health issues, and in February 2018 he was told that he would need a new kidney. Zeigler was a universal donor, and she told FOX 9 that offering one of her kidneys just made sense.

“You know for me, it wasn’t even a decision,” Zeigler said. “You know it was kind of like him calling up and saying, ‘Can you come over and help us rake leaves.’ That’s how I think of it.”

“It was like feeling a tap on my shoulder,” she continued. “How could I not?”

“We are celebrating that Mary was approved to donate a kidney to Bill,” Linda Henrichs wrote on Facebook in July. “We are so thankful for her willingness to donate and look forward to the transplant in October (if Mayo can schedule then)! God is good!!”

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Zeigler didn’t just hand over a kidney, either. She kept herself to a strict regimen, eating well and staying very hydrated, in order to give a first-rate kidney to her ex.

“The doctor did say it was an excellent kidney when I woke up,” the happy recipient confirmed.

After the operation, she said that she didn’t feel any different. “My recovery was incredibly fast,” she added. She hopes their story can help others forge relationships and still act charitably even through divorce.

“If this story changes one person’s actions or attitude towards their ex, it’ll be all worth it,” Zeigler said.

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