After COVID-19 delay, lunch date leads to life-saving kidney transplant

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.​