Alabama Democratic congressional candidate Kiani Gardner donated a kidney to a stranger last month amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gardner, who has been in the process of becoming a donor for the past two years, told The Hill on Tuesday that she did not expect to be called for a donor surgery during her congressional race, let alone a pandemic.
"It wasn't the plan," Gardner said. "They had soft-scheduled the surgery like four times, so I started this well before the congressional campaign, but then something would fall through or for some reason it didn't happen, and so I was expecting it not to happen anytime soon."
She got the call about two weeks before the scheduled surgery on April 30, saying the procedure had been given the green light.
Additionally, Gardner said she had to self-isolate prior to the surgery and get tested for coronavirus prior to the procedure.
"It was an inconvenient time to give a kidney, but in the grand scheme of things it's no less convenient than to have your kidneys fail," she said.
Gardner donated her kidney to Alabama resident Tyson Bell, who had been on the donor list for roughly two and a half years. Bell has been living with polycystic kidney disease for multiple years.
“I get an opportunity because of the new kidney. I get an opportunity to raise my children; I have got a four-year-old and a nine-year-old. I have potentially an opportunity to have grandkids and see them and interact with them, so this is a new lease on life for me," Bell told NBC 15 in Mobile, Ala.
Gardner told The Hill that she and Bell's wife text on a recovery basis, sharing recovery notes.
Gardner is in the process of recovering from surgery in Alabama and said she had taken a few weeks off from making videos informing the general public about the virus and preventative measures.
"I don't know that it's impacted the campaign a whole lot," she said, citing the pandemic's impact on campaigns. "Honestly, how do you campaign right now? We've got some volunteers making phone calls. I'm not about to start calling people begging for money in the middle of what could be a huge economic meltdown."
"I've just kept with what has always been the ethos of the campaign, which is I'm running because I believe that Alabama families deserve a fair shot a good life, and whether that means going to Congress or being on the PTA, or giving a dad a kidney, it's what I believe," she added.