Onalaska woman saves stranger's life - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Onalaska woman saves stranger's life

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Onalaska, WI (WXOW) -

Amy Prince and Stefani Lee Jones were complete strangers separated by more than 1,000 miles just two years ago.

Now, they're forever connected by an unbreakable bond.

"It's something you hear on Oprah or Ellen or daytime talk shows, you know?" said Garret Prince, husband to Amy Prince. "Something like that where they're trying to encourage you to do something nice for someone else, and I sleep next to someone who did it."

That's how many describe the story of Amy, an Onalaska woman who many are deeming a hero after donating her kidney to a stranger.

But Amy remains humble as ever.

"I don't need all the praise and the glory and things like that because I just did, you know, she needed a kidney and I had one that worked so why not?" Amy explained.

A 'why not' mindset was exactly what boy band O-Town was searching for nearly two years ago when they tweeted out in support of their dedicated fan from Pennsylvania, Stefanie Lee Jones. 

Stefani reached out on a social media page with a supportive push from friends after doctors warned her that waiting for a donor on the traditional list might take too long.

That's when O-Town stepped in, and Amy reached out.

"She just kinda said hey, you know I've seen you around on a couple of the pages on O-Town and stuff and I just wanted to let you know I saw that we're the same blood type and there's something telling me that I should get tested," said Stefani Jones, kidney recipient.

But good things don't always come easy -- or without doubt.

"In my mind, I was like you know yeah right, so I still didn't really think it was going to be her I guess I just was kind like okay thanks for calling," remembered Stefani.

Garret also had his own hesitations, saying "You know my red flags go up up and I'm like this might not be the best thing."

Then, after rounds of testing and just as everyone got on board, Amy hit a roadblock.

"They did a CT scan, and that's where they found a tumor in my back," remembered Amy.

Luckily, the tumor wasn't cancerous and Amy was able to have it removed. But the transplant doctors were still concerned.

"The hospital we were with at the time, because of a point one percent chance that someday this tumor could return, even though it would still probably be benign, they denied me as a donor," said Amy.

Garret says that was a turning point for Amy. "I saw Amy hear a no and the determination just plowed through. It was like blasting dynamite through a mountain. Up until that point it had been molehills and she was just plowing through them and then the mountain came and she said nope."

For Stefani, that was when she knew it was real. "You know she said to me, right there in front of everybody, this does not take transplant off the table for me. And I think that really was the moment where I realized that she was definitely in it to win it and she was not gonna back out."

Within minutes, the hunt for a new donation center began.

Nine months later, on May 15th, Amy and Stefani finally underwent the life-saving surgery.

"We've made it," Amy laughed.

But how they crossed that finish line was different for everyone involved.

"To me obviously, it feels like she's my hero because she did essentially save my life, and she's still like 'I'm just another person!'" said Stefani.

"This isn't dropping off your change in the Salvation Army bucket, you know like that's a very good thing to do. And it's not giving $5 to some homeless guy standing on the street corner, that's a very good thing to do," Garret said. "This is on a whole nother level."

For Amy Prince, it's just another day.

"[I] say thank you and let people know I'm just happy to help."

But their story goes beyond the donation.

On May 16th, Amy and Garret's son Mason had his bike stolen while staying with relatives during the transplant surgery.

The community banded together, bringing Mason a new bike. You can read that story here.

That's just one story of the support the Prince family received.

Garret said neighbors stepped up, taking care of the home and the children, bringing them food and watching them while Amy and he were away. 

All of the support is something both Amy and Garret say they're endlessly thankful for.

That feeling of community went beyond the immediate area as well, when Amy and Stefani turned an online support group page called 'Bye Bye Bean' into a fundraiser. 

They sold t-shirts, can koozies, and many more goods, bringing in enough money to fund all of Amy's travel expenses between Onalaska and Philadelphia.

Today, both women are well on the road to recovery and plan to start advocating for living organ donation in the near future.

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