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Illinois police officer's kidney gift saves Navy veteran's life

Written by Kimberly Watley/ For the Rockford Register-Star

Rockford radio station’s request, unlike any other, fulfilled

BELVIDERE — Navy veteran Rachel Schultz rang in the new year with a new lease on life thanks to a stranger’s gift.

Lakemoor police officer Nicole Gaborek, 27, read a Facebook post on Rockford radio station 95.3 The Bull’s page about the Belvidere veteran’s need of a kidney donor.

“I have always been a blood and platelet donor. I’m on the bone marrow registry, so it’s not totally out of my wheelhouse,” Gaborek said. “When I read about Rachel, live organ donation never occurred to me before.”

Then quickly, on her lunch break, she decided and told her partner that she was going to donate a kidney.

Turning to social media was one of many efforts Schultz, 31, made to find a donor.

“I was thinking of getting the word out in any way, shape or form,” she said.

Her phone number and request were put on magnetic bumper stickers, flyers and even a self-designed T-shirt.

Laughing, she said, “I don’t care if my shirt is dorky with a smiling kidney face on it. I wore it to a Cubs vs. Brewers game. Talking with a friend one day, we came up with an idea of sending my story in to a radio station,” Schultz said. “I actually sent it in to The Bull’s affiliate, 104.9 The X. But The Bull shared it instead, and that’s where Nicole saw it.”

Gaborek felt a kinship with the stranger. “When I read the article, she reminded me of me, she said. “She missed traveling — I am also an avid traveler. She has a cat — I have a cat. She missed spending time with her friends. I am blessed with friends; thinking about not having the energy to spend time with my friends — that would be the worst. If there was a (military) branch I had gone into, it would have been the Navy.”