Correction: Goss originally believed that her kidney was ruined during transport. WCPO later received information from South Carolina’s organ procurement organization that the kidney was likely transplanted in another patient.
CINCINNATI -- The phone call stole Angel Goss' breath.
When her children came to investigate the sound of their mother jumping up and down in their home, she could only point at the phone. A match, she tried to tell them. They found a match.
She would receive a donor kidney. The search for one her body could accept had lasted 10 years, much of it spent in hourslong sessions of dialysis.
Multiple blood transfusions and a diagnosis of lupus, which contributed to her kidney failure, meant she needed to find a donor who met exacting standards: They needed to be alive, and they needed to belong to the 2 percent of the population with a compatible blood type.
After a decade, that donor had finally materialized. Ohio State University Hospital found them.
"I was overjoyed," Goss said. "You know, I've been waiting too long for this. I didn't know how to contain myself because I was just so excited.”
She says hospital staff came to her bed, and told her that Hurricane Michael stalled the flight carrying her kidney in South Carolina. Organs can only survive limited hours before transplant, so there was no way to get the kidney to her without it spoiling. Goss was speechless again.
Hurricane Michael stalled the flight carrying her kidney in South Carolina, where the organ spoiled in storage as the ice around it melted, and Goss was speechless again.
"I didn't want to hear it," Goss said. "I didn't want to believe it. (I thought,) ‘It's going to come, and when it comes, it's going to be just for me.'
"I didn't want to speak to anybody. I felt like everything bad follows me."
We Are Sharing Hope SC is South Carolina’s federally designated organ and tissue donor program. They were not able to confirm Goss’ specific situation because of HIPPA laws, but confirmed that no organs were ruined during transport in South Carolina from Hurricane Michael. Instead Goss’ kidney would have been transplanted in another patient who was more easily accessible.
In a statement, they wrote: "As the only organ procurement organization (OPO) in South Carolina responsible for facilitating the gift of organ donation, We Are Sharing Hope SC can confirm that in October, despite all weather events, including Hurricane Michael, all organs that had been recovered for transplant have been successfully transplanted into awaiting recipients."
Goss continues to wake up early for four-hour dialysis sessions every day. She said she forces herself to believe everything happens for a reason, even if she can't see it, and keep her loved ones in mind as she lives each moment to the fullest.
She will remain at the top of the kidney transplant list, hoping for another rare donor to come along. In the meantime, she said she hopes sharing her story will encourage those with healthy kidneys to become organ donors.
"I just want that second chance," she said. "I want to feel good again."
People can register to become organ donors to help patients like Angel by registering at RegisterMe.org.