Customer Donates Kidney to Cashier

Myra De La Vega, a Jewel-Osco cashier, was diagnosed with kidney failure four years ago.

By Alex Perez
|  Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010  |  Updated 7:39 AM CDT
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A social worker at John J. Pershing East Magnet School for the Humanities will donate a kidney to a cashier he's known for 12 years.

A social worker at John J. Pershing East Magnet School for the Humanities will donate a kidney to a cashier he's known for 12 years.

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When Don Coyne shops at the Jewel-Osco grocery store in Evanston, Illinois, he always looks for Myra De La Vega's smiling face at the cash register.

"She always smiles," he said. "I have a choice, but I always choose her line to go through."

For more than a decade, Coyne has handed his cash to De La Vega, who tries to learn the names of regular customers and greets everyone with a smile. Now he's giving something much bigger -- a kidney.

De La Vega was diagnosed with kidney failure four years ago. She's been on dialysis treatment -- 8 hours a day -- for the last 18 months.

"I'm always thinking and thinking, but I can't get up because my body is so weak," De La Vega said.

She needs a kidney transplant, but none of her family members was a match -- but Coyne is. Coyne, a social worker at Pershing East Magnet School, agreed to donate his kidney.

"We've been given too many kidneys," he said. "Our human body can get by with one-third of one kidney and still function normally."

"I'm confident I'm supposed to do this. I think I'm more fearful when I'm on Lake Shore Drive in the winter time and some of those pot holes try to swallow my car."

At Pershing East, on the near south side, the principal declared it "Dan Coyne Day." Students learned about De La Vega's story and how kidney transplants work. They also made get well cards to send to sick kids at La Rabida Children's Hospital.

"If you don't give, then you won't get any good things back, and you always need good things in your life," third grader Taylor Stalling said,

The pair will undergo the surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Friday.

"It gives me chills," De La Vega said, "just to see that he would do this just because of his generosity."

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