“Friendships are so necessary. Good quality friendships,” Tiffani Martin said. “I really hope people see it and really give them hope.”
DALLAS — Tiffani Martin is already something of a social media influencer, pleading with the black community to pay greater attention to the prevalence of diabetes that has caused her so many health problems.
Now a very good friend has stepped in to help her keep that message, and herself, alive.
I met Tiffani and her friend, Lisa Rachelle Winkley, at the Ervay Apartments, the converted historic space that once served as the US courthouse in Dallas.
“OK Tiffani, we’re smiling, look at me,” Lisa told her friend.
“Let’s take a selfie,” Tiffani asked. “You’re not supposed to take pictures of blind people without their consent,” she joked.
“I just told you,” Lisa laughed.
“No means no,” Tiffani said as Lisa laughed. “No means no.”
Diabetic retinopathy robbed Tiffani of her sight. Diabetes also led to a pancreas transplant and a kidney transplant. But the kidney, from a deceased donor, is also failing.
“I didn’t know his story until we were friends for quite a while,” Lisa said of their friendship, which has spanned about six years now.
They were just buddies, part of a four-woman book club, when Lisa secretly decided to get tested.
“I haven’t really thought about it. Really not,” she admitted.
And, like the end of a good novel, she was a perfect match.
“If I was in the same position, I would want someone to help me,” Lisa said. “There’s no way I can keep walking through life, spending time with my friend, chatting with her every day, knowing I have something she could use.”
“And my kidneys are almost identical,” she told doctors. “Which is really amazing. It just makes it more reassuring to give one. Because I’m not going to give it to my friend,” she said as they both laughed.
The transplant will take place next week at Baylor Scott and White Healthwhere experts know that the average wait time for a donor kidney can take five years or more.
It is estimated that 5,000 people die each year in the United States without ever being so lucky.
Which makes Lisa’s gift even more incredible for Tiffani.
“It’s breathtaking,” she said. “You just don’t meet people like that at all.”
Or often meet people willing to name the donor kidney.
“We thought of Kidney Spears,” Tiffani said. “It was a !”
“We’re going to name them after famous movie characters. Dionne and Cher from ‘Clueless,'” Lisa said. “The one I give her is going to be Cher since I’m now ‘sharing’ my kidney. And then I’ll keep Dionne,” she laughed.
“Tell him about your playlist,” Tiffani said.
Yes, they even have a kidney playlist for their hospital stay with artists like Selena Gomez, Stevie Wonder, and Tina Turner who also had kidney transplants.
“Maybe we also need to have like a kidney handshake that we make up,” Lisa said of their post-op routine, with rooms they plan to decorate themed “Hello Kidney”.
Lisa, by the way, is a professional event planner.
So really, it’s not about kidney transplants. It’s about something else.
“Friendships are so necessary. Good quality friendships,” Tiffani said. “Just to get that anchor. I really hope people see it and really give them hope.”
Hope someone who also knows the art of a good selfie.
“Now pucker your lips because I just did it and it looked good,” Lisa laughed as she asked Tiffani to pose for another selfie. “Now we have some decent Tiffani pictures!”
Decent pictures… and a very decent friend.
The transplant is scheduled for next Tuesday at Baylor Scott & White Health in Dallas.