TAMPA, Fla. - One memorable lunch date changed the lives of two Tampa women forever.
Debra Palmer needs a kidney transplant. At the other end of her table recently, Debbie Lundberg was willing to donate hers.
"I just had a feeling that it was going to happen," said Lundberg.
Both women admit they knew each other through local volunteer work and but were not really close.
"I really can't express how I feel about this because Debbie and I were essentially acquaintances, not really friends," explained Palmer.
But that's all about to change on August 6.
"It’s going to be a very historical day for Debra and for me," said Lundberg.
Palmer has been a kidney patient for 25 years. Dialysis has worked for most of those years, but now she needs a kidney transplant.
Palmer shared her private battle publicly on Facebook. Lundberg read her story and did something rare for her -- she decided to go to lunch and invite Palmer along.
"Okay, never had done that with Debbie Lundberg, but OK, let’s do it. I like lunch," Palmer said.
That lunch date would put the transplant wheels in motion. Turns out, Lundberg, who is super fit and an avid runner, was a perfect kidney donor match for Palmer.
But then the pandemic happened and it all came to a screeching halt.
"They stopped the surgeries. What's amazing to me about that is a transplant is being considered an elective surgery. I don't elect to have a transplant. I elect to because I want to continue my life," expressed Palmer.
Months went by and finally, they got the green light for surgery. The only problem is COVID-19 restrictions will keep them isolated from their loved ones.
"I wish my husband could be there. I wish that Debra's husband could be there," said Lundberg.
However, that's not deterring Palmer. She has been through countless doctor’s appointments and tests. She knows the risks and is a bit nervous, but can't imagine not doing it.
"I know we're connected no matter what. There will be a part of us that will be best friends for our entire lives no matter how often we see each other," Lundberg explained.
Palmer said Lundberg's selfless act means the world to her.
"I'm just blessed and happy and faithful, " she said.
She also can't wait to feel healthy again and maybe coax Lundberg into a second lunch date someday.
"I'll absolutely make an effort to have lunch more than once," Lundberg chuckled.