ROXBURY, NJ – When she made a Facebook plea on behalf of her husband for a kidney donor, Succasunna resident Kathleen Whalen Williams stressed that time wasn’t on Bob’s side.
That might have been true, but Williams came to learn that something else was: The kind heart of Kim Lagitch Roumes, a fellow Roxbury resident.
On Tuesday, (Feb. 12) Roumes donated one her kidneys to Williams, an act of kindness that likely saved the former Boy Scout leader’s life and certainly left him awestruck.
“I’m just completely overwhelmed by this whole experience,” Williams said on Friday. “Words cannot describe the love I have for that woman. I love her with all my heart. I told her we are going to be very close friends rest of our lives.”
Williams, 55, was preparing Friday to leave St. Barnabus Medical Center. He said he’s feeling “100 percent better” already. “In this short period of time, my levels are much better,” he noted.
Serendipity and Panera Soup
The circumstances that led to one Roxbury resident possibly saving the life of another have roots in local sports, according to Williams. He said his sons played sports with Roumes’ boys.
“We’ve known each other over the years,” said Williams. “Our kids all grew up at same time ... We’ve been in contact in different social circles.”
They were friendly, but not what you'd call best friends. In fact, Williams can't remember when he last saw Roumes before the kidney donor miracle began.
He said Roumes told him her heart was touched by his wife's Facebook plea, reported in TAPinto Roxbury, so she decided to have her donor suitability tested. She tried to use the Facebook Messager app to tell Kathleen Williams about her decision, but never got a reply.
“My wife had not been on Messager, so she missed Kim’s message,” Williams said. He said doctors at the hospital indicated somebody had come for testing but they could not reveal the person's name.
Then came the day, right before Thanksgiving, at Panera Bread in Succasunna. Williams was there picking up four quarts of soup for Thanksgiving dinner.
“I never go to Panera,” he said. “I just happened to be there and on the side of the counter I see Kim Roumes. We had not seen each other in a long time. It had to be a couple of years.”
Being “casual friends” with Roumes, Williams offered a greeting.
“I looked over and said, ‘Hey Kim. How are you doing?’” he said. “She looks up all surprised and smiling. She says, ‘I’ve got to talk to you,' So we go to a side and she tells me, ‘I saw Kathleen’s Facebook post and I went over to the hospital yesterday and got tested.'"
Sobbing a little, Williams recalled that he was flabbergasted.
“My jaw just dropped,” he said. “The next thing she did is she looked at me with a hopeful look. Then she crossed her fingers and said, ‘Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this is going to work.’ I was completely blown away, completely stunned. I couldn’t stop hugging her and I told her daughter, ‘You have the most wonderful mother in the whole world.’”
Williams, a radio traffic reporter, said he plans to resume working in a couple of weeks. He’ll do so from home at first. But he said he has big plans aside from work, both for himself and for Roumes.
“We are going to tell our story and I’m going to use whatever information I have to bring as much awareness to organ donation, living donor donation, deceased donor donation, donors on driver’s licenses,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever I can and I told her I’m taking her with me.”