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SENECAVILLE -- Driving through the Seneca Lake Marina campground on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, a gathering of friends and family would look like just that to the casual observer. But on July 29, Cambridge native Troy Phillips and his family invited Steve Szabo of Barnesville and his family for a get-together to thank him for a very special gift. On January 27, Szabo donated a kidney to Phillips.
Now a resident of Williamstown, West Virginia, Phillips had kidney failure due to diabetes and had been on the waiting list for a new kidney for over four years. Szabo's wife is Troy's first cousin and after many had tried, but not been matches and Troy's sister, who was a match, was unable to meet the health requirements, Szabo stepped up to be a donor. Troy said his sister was very disappointed that she could not donate her kidney to him, but was able to walk Steve and his family through the donation process.
"I didn't want to tell him I would do it, until I knew for sure I was a match", Szabo said. "Once I was a match, I knew that if I passed the physical , I would not change my mind."
Although Steve didn't hesitate, Troy was fearful for him because he has a wife and two juvenile children. "Even the day of the surgery, I told him he could change his mind. I was afraid for him," he said.
There were no complications for Steve and the day after the surgery, he visited Troy.
"I think they treated him better than they did me," Troy joked.
Although his recovery took longer due to some other health complications, Troy says the transplant kept him from having to go on dialysis and benefitted him in many ways.
"It really has been the best thing that ever happened to me," Phillips said. "It was more than just a kidney, it made my whole body feel better and I'm getting better every day."
Troy said he wanted to share the story as a way to thank Steve. The two have kept in touch by text message, with Steve checking on Troy's recovery, but the get together at Seneca Lake was long over due.
Phillips encourages all who can be organ donors to do so.
"The changes it makes to the lives of the recipients is incredible," he said. Szabo also encourages people to donate.