Milwaukee radio host donating kidney to stranger in exchange that could save her mother-in-law's life

NOW: Milwaukee radio host donating kidney to stranger in exchange that could save her mother-in-law’s life

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Listeners tune in to hear Elizabeth Kay each morning, but next week, The Mix's morning show co-host will be waking up with even more reason to smile.

Elizabeth Kay is donating a kidney to a complete stranger next week. It's a decision that could in turn, save her mother-in-law's life.

"Have you ever thought of saving a life through organ donation? Because this is something our family is now facing," Elizabeth Kay said to her listeners on the radio last month.

Elizabeth Kay is going to be taking some time off from work, all to benefit Camille Hamme, who was born with poor functioning kidneys.

"I always say that Camille is everyone's mom. I feel like she's my second mom," said Kay.

Eight years since they met, Hamme is now also a grandma. Late in 2019, Elizabeth Kay's mother-in-law got a diagnosis she feared may happen at some point.

"That's when it became real to all of us that she was essentially dying of kidney failure," said Kay. "My thoughts were constantly I need to be a match for Camille. We hope we have a match for Camille."

Kay jumped at the chance to help out, but a test of her kidneys showed she wasn't a match.

"We were crushed, we were devastated. I immediately started crying because I thought oh my gosh, all this was for nothing. We're gonna have to start this process over," said Kay.

That's when Kay found the paired kidney exchange program on the National Kidney Registry. 

She entered her name, and this month, the program found matches for both women. Kay feels extremely lucky, given statewide statistics.

"Fifty-one people were waiting for kidney transplants and lost their life and I don't forget about that as we go through this, how fortunate we are and we definitely don't take it for granted," said Kay.

Kay's kidney is being donated to someone in Kentucky, while Hamme's is coming from California.

All anonymous right now, but in the future, if all parties agree, they can get more information about recipient and donor.

Elizabeth Kay will be in Madison for her surgery next week. 

Her mother-in-law's is this Thursday in Milwaukee.

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