Sometimes a Starbucks barista has something to more offer than a Frappuccino and a smile.
Nicole McNeil, a barista at the DuPont, Wash., Starbucks knew something was going on with long-time customer Vince Villano when he seemed down during his trips to her store..
So she she sat down with him and asked him what was wrong, KIRO-TV reports. Turns out, Villano, an Army veteran, needed a new kidney. He was suffering from polycystic kidney disease – his kidneys were only functioning at about 4% – and he was facing a life on dialysis. The debilitating condition has no treatment and the only option is a kidney transplant.
The story stuck with McNeil, who went home and shared the heart-breaking tale with her husband, Justin McNeil. The story struck a chord with Justin, too, and he ultimately decided to donate a kidney to Villano. “I said, ‘I’ve got a kidney, you know, we could do this. I think I’m willing to do that,’” Justin McNeil told KIRO. “It didn’t take long.”
The couple gave Villano the news and as they embarked on the long journey of medical testing to confirm the donation would work, the three struck up a close friendship. Villano and Justin McNeil, who is also an Army veteran, spent months traveling back and forth from DuPont, which is between Olympia and Tacoma in Washington State, to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.
“In general, having them as friends, family, I wouldn’t want it to not be this way. I can’t imagine not having them in my life,” Villano told KIRO.
Both Villano and Justin McNeil had their surgeries on Wednesday and, according to an update posted by Starbucks, “The doctors told [Nicole McNeil] the kidney Justin McNeil donated to Villano looks great, and a post-surgery ultrasound confirmed it is functioning well.”
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