- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2004

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — A woman who changed the fortunes of a man she didn’t know by anonymously donating a kidney has come into a fortune of her own by winning $500,000 in the Virginia Lottery.

“I think if you do good things for people, good things will happen to you,” Mitzi Nichols of Virginia Beach said yesterday. “I don’t know why it happened. I’m just real glad it did.”

Mrs. Nichols, a 44-year-old cashier in the gift shop at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, bought the scratch-off ticket at work.

She plans to use her winnings — $355,000 after taxes — to buy a house, a truck for her husband and a car for herself and to pay off her daughter’s student loans. She also will pay to repair the broken-down car of the man who received her kidney.

While working as a technician at a hospital in the 1980s, Mrs. Nichols decided she wanted to someday help a kidney patient get off dialysis. In 2001, she anonymously donated a kidney. One year later, she got to meet the man who received her kidney, Calvin Saunders of Portsmouth.

Mr. Saunders said he was overwhelmed by Mrs. Nichols’ continuing generosity.

“I told her, ‘You’ve given me enough by giving me a kidney,’” said Mr. Saunders, 54, a medical transport driver who had suffered from kidney failure.

Mrs. Nichols said she had been working as a dialysis technician at a hospital in the 1980s when, seeing how kidney patients suffered, she decided she would someday help one. In 2001, she anonymously donated a kidney.

Although organs are commonly transplanted from people who have died and from living donors, such as spouses, parents and siblings, stranger-to-stranger donations from living donors are rare.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, the nation’s transplant system, recorded 62,469 kidney trans-plants from living donors from Jan. 1, 1988, through March 31 this year. Of those, 214 were listed as being from anonymous donors.

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