December 19, 2010
Sometimes the best gifts can’t be wrapped and placed under a tree.
In Northside one employee shared the ultimate gift this past year with one of her coworkers - the gift of life. (Watch video)
With about 250 employees in the Maintenance Department, it's no wonder that Lisa Delgado and Oscar Jimenez barely knew each other.
Jimenez is an energy control technician who has worked for Northside for 24 years. Delgado is the staff accountant and joined the District two years ago.
Before this year they shared only a few brief conversations. Now they are connected forever, thanks to a selfless decision that changed both of their lives.
Two years ago Jimenez was diagnosed with renal kidney disease. Doctors told the married father of three teenagers that he needed a kidney transplant or he would be forced to go on dialysis.
"At one point, believe it or not, I had pretty much given up," he said. "I said, you know, if this is my time, I’m going to go ahead and accept what’s coming."
Jimenez turned to his faith, praying that someone would be a match and ultimately a donor. In early March, his coworkers posted a flyer around the office asking people to consider getting tested.
"I went to go get a soda from the break room and I walked by the reception desk and I saw a flyer and it said one of our own, Oscar Jimenez, is in need of a kidney, call for confidential testing," Delgado said. "I said, 'I'll call' so I looked at the number, memorized the number, came back to my office and called to make an appointment."
Amazingly, Delgado turned out to be a match. The single mother also turned to her faith and never second-guessed her decision.
"Not a single doubt in my mind that I knew I was doing the right thing," she said. "I couldn’t come to work knowing that just five walls away there would be a man who would be put on dialysis, that would take a toll on his family, and sit here and do nothing."
The surgeries took place June 30 at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital. Both have since recovered and returned to work. Once practically strangers, they consider each other family now.
"Now that I have all this energy, I want to make sure that I channel it to the people I really love, the people that really mean a lot to me," Jimenez said. "So now the holidays are extra special. Thanksgiving, Christmas coming up, you just want to embrace every moment, you want to do little things for your family, not be so wrapped up maybe in the material things, be more family oriented. And of course include Lisa because she’s a hero."
Said Delgado: "He was supposed to start dialysis in January and he doesn’t have to worry about that this holiday. He gets to celebrate with his family knowing that it’s not going to be a burden to come for the new year for his family."
They believe their paths were meant to cross in Northside.
"Every time I see her, my face lights up, not just because of the sacrifice that she did for me but because I see her as a sister," Jimenez said. "I see her as someone who loves life and was willing to put her life on the line for someone else."