For Pete's Sake

Man learns wife is kidney transplant match ... via a baseball card

Man with kidney disease receives surprise from his wife on a baseball card

Heather Winfree used baseball cards to tell her husband with kidney disease, Steve Winfree, that she is a kidney donor match. She hopes their story will bring more awareness to living kidney donations.
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Heather Winfree used baseball cards to tell her husband with kidney disease, Steve Winfree, that she is a kidney donor match. She hopes their story will bring more awareness to living kidney donations.

You may think that the highlight of opening a pack of baseball cards would be finding a Mike Trout.

But not in this case. Not even close.

Earlier this week, Steve Winfree of Knoxville, Tenn., was opening a pack of cards given to him by his wife, Heather. The couple was on the front porch at their home and Steve marveled at seeing a card of Trout, Yankees rookie Clint Frazier and others. Then he saw his own face on a card.

But what was written on the back of the card reduced Steve to tears.

“She knows that I collect baseball cards,” Steve Winfree said in a video posted on Twitter. “So she got these baseball cards, and she actually called the baseball card maker, Topps, and had them make a baseball card with my picture on it at the transplant center and on the back it said that I was getting a kidney transplant.”

Winfree, whose Twitter handle is Knoxville Kidney Guy, has been waiting a long, long time for a kidney.

“I’ve been fighting this stupid disease for about 14 years, and it turns out the person that is donating to save my life is my wife,” Winfree said in the video. “And the way it went down last night I couldn’t have imagined it going any better.”

This is what as written on the back of the card:

Steve has had a lot on his plate. With his health issues, he has been striking out a lot. He was not sure how he was going to wind up. His wife Heather thinks he is a great catch, so she decided to go to bat for him. Now Steve will be a rookie recipient at Vanderbilt Transplant Center where his wife Heather will be pitching a new kidney to him.

Winfree said he had an inkling that his wife might be springing the good news on him, because the couple had been waiting to hear back on if she was a match.

However, he never expected the news would come in such a manner.

“Last night was one of the best nights of my life,” Winfree said in the video. “I feel very blessed that I’m going to have a second opportunity to try and have a normal life. For it to come from my wife is absolutely amazing. I already loved her until death do us part. Now, I mean, I don’t know how I could love her any more.”

The couple has received a lot of attention both locally and across the nation, and that’s the goal. Not because the Winfrees like the limelight, but they are hoping to show others that being a kidney donor can be a life-changing event.

“We want people to see what it’s like to be a donor,” Winfree said in the video. “Because without donors, you don’t have people like me who are recipients. There is a big shortage of kidney donors in this country. We want to use our story to help with that. If my wife can show you the impact it has on a life by donating a kidney, that’s why she wanted to videotape it. That’s why we document it. So we really, really hope that we can help some people out.”

Here is more information on how to be a donor.

You can see the moment Heather surprised Steve in the video above. And this is the video he made the next day:

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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