‘Heroes:' Former Maryland Officer Is Perfect Living Kidney Donor Match for Colleague and Friend

Valentine's Day is usually all about hearts, but on Thursday, one former Montgomery County officer shared that she'll give away a different organ: Her kidney.

Mom-of-two Megan Ambrose surprised her former colleague Stanley Barsch with some stunning news Thursday — which was also National Donor Day — and caught the touching reveal on video.

Ambrose pulled out a card with the clever pun on the front, "So I heard urine need of a kidney..."

Inside, a true life-saving surprise awaited.

The father-of-three has polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, a hereditary condition that has left his kidney's functioning at 13 percent capacity. Right now, he says the cysts have blown up his kidneys so they're the size of NFL footballs.

He retired in 2016 because of PKD, and then faced with a tough choice: Find a donor soon, or eventually go on dialysis and further damage his kidneys.

Going public with the search and doing a call-out for a kidney wasn't an easy choice, Barsch said.

"I was reluctant," he said. "I didn't want it to affect my business."

But as the condition of his kidneys deteriorated, his wife prodded him and Barsch posted to Facebook.

More than 30 people stepped up to fill out paperwork to see if they were a match — Barsch said even hospital staff were impressed.

While Barsch knew that Ambrose had been tested to see if she was a match, he didn't know the results. And he didn't know if she had decided to go through with a living organ donation. It took weeks for the two families to find a date when they could all meet up together.

It worked with both families' schedules to meet on Valentine's Day. On the drive over, Barsch was nervous and anxious: He knew it was a major decision, "a very personal thing."

But when he finally arrived at Ambrose's Maryland home and opened the "I heard urine need of a kidney..." card, it contained a lot of good news.

Scrawled at the top was a question: "Want mine?"

"Turns out we are a perfect match... Not only on the job but in blood & organs too," the card read. "You always had my back on the road and off, now you can have my kidney. I am honored to be able to give you the gift of life."

The card also said the surgery date was set for May 14.

Not only is Barsch set up to get the kidney he needs — but he's promised many more years of healthy function because he's a 100 percent match with Ambrose. It was a fluke that feels a bit like destiny.

The two have already been through a tragedy and triumph together.

Barsch and Ambrose met in 2007 at the Montgomery County Police Academy. They graduated and became not just colleagues, shift mates and beat partners, but friends.

Ambrose and Barsch relished in writing ticket upon ticket and arresting wrongdoers — Annoying their boss, the late Sgt. Andy Kranking, with mountains of paperwork.

"We were hustlers," Barsch said.

When the transplant surgery goes forward at Georgetown Hospital in May, it won't even be the first time the two have been to the hospital together.

While rushing to arrest a possibly armed suspect, Barsch said Ambrose swerved to avoid a turning car and crashed. She was badly injured. Barsch climbed into the emergency response helicopter and accompanied his fellow officer to the hospital.

Ambrose eventually retired from the force in 2012 due to her injuries from the crash and also asked Barsch and his wife to be godparents for her two daughters.

Barsch says they don't get to see each other all the time  — They don't live close and meet up for a few play dates with the kids every year. But after the surgery, they'll share a profound link.

Barsch wants everyone to know how important considering living donations is.

"Living donors are heroes," he said.

For more information on starting that conversation, you can visit the National Kidney Foundation website.

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