When Rachel Anzaldua received a kidney from Tina Brown in January 2015, it wasn’t the first time the Brown family had given her the gift of life through organ donation. Anzaldua had also received a liver from Brown’s son, Shane, who lost his life in a tragic auto accident four years ago.
Fighting back tears, Tina recalled the day of her son’s accident to Houston television news, KTRK.
“It was less than a quarter of a mile from our house,” the grieving mother said.
“I knew it was him as soon as I heard the first ambulance go by. I still kept calling … hoping he would pick up.”
As soon as she found out for sure it was Shane, Tina rushed to the hospital.
“They pretty much told me he was the sickest person in the hospital and that I probably wouldn’t be taking him home.”
And they were right: Shane never went home. Doctors took five of his organs for donation, and one of them ended up going to Anzaldua, who needed a liver after contracting Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion in the past.
“And this young man is the one who saved my life,” she said.
WPVI Philadelphia reports that months later, Tina reached out to Rachel, asking to meet, and Rachel was more than willing.
Tina shared childhood memories of her lost son with Rachel, and almost immediately, the two mothers bonded.
“You just want to hug and just feel that warmth because he’s in you,” Anzaldua said.
“He’s in her.”
The two have become closer than they could have ever expected. “We meet up for dinner or we get together and have BBQ and cook outs, we hang out together and it’s awesome,” Brown said.
“They’re my second family.”
And when Rachel ended up on a transplant list again because of kidney problems, Tina offered to give her a kidney.
“Because she needed it, and I love her,” Tina said.
“But then she told me also that she wanted to give me her kidney because this was the only way that she could be close to her son again,” Rachel said.
After a successful surgery in January, both women are doing fine. Rachel told KTRK that as she prepared to go under the knife, she thought, “Shane, mom is coming home.”
Rachel’s daughter calls it a miracle.
“My house is not a home unless my mother is here,” Anzaldua’s daughter said.
“And if it wasn’t for Tina and Shane, I would not have her here right now.”