Remarkable Women: Wife gives kidney to husband, starts series of helping others

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s the third week of meeting our “Remarkable Women” contest finalists. We are turning the spotlight on Heather Winfree.

Heather Winfree had a feeling she could help her husband who was suffering from kidney failure.

RELATED: Honoring Knoxville’s Remarkable Women for 2020

Tests revealed she was a perfect match and donated one of her kidneys to him.

In a video that went viral, you see Steve Winfree sitting on a porch swing with Heather, looking at baseball cards, one of his favorite pastimes. Little did he know, Heather had planted a custom made card of him in the stack he was holding, one that brought him to tears.

“Now, Steve will be a rookie recipient at Vanderbilt transplant …” he read.

As Steve started to cry, Heather said, “I found out today at work that I’m a match, and you could be getting a kidney by the end of this month!”

Steve was overcome with emotion, learning tests revealed Heather’s kidney was a perfect match.

Years of waiting for a transplant were soon to be over.

“She saved my life,” Steve said. “There’s no other way to put it.”

“I feel like we were already one, ” Heather said. “You know, this was just an extension of those vows.”

It was Sept. 17, 2017, when Heather gave Steve the gift of life. She didn’t stop there, becoming an advocate for kidney patients in our area, speaking to Congress on a number of occasions, and receiving honors for her work.

Heather has been a foster mom caring for six children over the last three years, with her husband, and a deacon in her church.

“I think the reason why I continue and why we decided to continue together to encourage other people was that we had so many people encourage us throughout our journey. We felt so much gratitude and we wanted to give that back, ” Heather said.

She didn’t know for months that Steve nominated her for our Remarkable Women contest.

“She goes, ‘ I just got a call from WATE about something, did you nominate me for anything?’ ” Steve said. “And I can’t lie to her like that so I got this little sheepish look and I was like, ‘uh huh.’ I can’t think of anyone else who deserves to be sitting here today than her.”

The couple has been in the national spotlight. But the talk shows and accolades are not the priority.

Here’s why Heather Winfree is truly a remarkable woman.

“I don’t care what we accomplish, or what exactly it is we do in life, I just want to do life with him.”

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