June 21, 2012
"Could you imagine being a four year old, and not knowing if you were going to have to grow up without your daddy?"
Morganton Public Safety Officer Felicia Ennis knows what it's like to think your daddy is going to die, and that's why she decided to do everything she could to keep four-year-old Adam Christy from experiencing that grief. Felicia decided to do something that most people would never consider; she donated a kidney to Adam's daddy, Public Safety Sergeant Bryan Christy.
Morganton Public Safety Chief Mark Tolbert presented a Medal of Valor to Felicia Ennis during the June 18 Morganton City Council Meeting to recognize her distinguished service.
"Most acts of valor are a one-time event that leaves little to no time to think of one's actions, PSO Ennis had months to change her mind about donating her kidney, but she remained steadfast in her care and commitment to her fellow law enforcement officer and gave of herself, literally, to provide life to Sergeant Bryan Christy," the commendation read.
Ennis said she was honored by the medal and thankful to be able help her fellow officer. Ennis understands that many people will wonder, why? For her, the answer is that her father was saved from a deadly illness, and she decided she wanted to help someone else's father, if she was able.
About four years ago, Ennis's grandmother died of lung cancer. Just a year later her father found out he had colon cancer. She felt helpless and worried; and she just assumed that since her grandmother had died of cancer, her father would die of cancer as well.
"The feeling I had in the pit of my stomach was sickening," Ennis said. "I know what it is like to think your daddy is going to die, and there is nothing you can do about it. You feel helpless, with a lot of questions and doubts."
But thankfully, surgeons were able to remove the cancer, and her father started to recover. He said he didn't want any chemotherapy or radiation treatment. He reassured Ennis that it would be taken care of, and it was. Today, Ennis father is cancer free.
Ennis said it wasn't difficult to look at four-year-old Adam and empathize. It wasn't difficult to put herself in Christy's shoes.
"Could you imagine being a father and not knowing if you were going to live long enough to watch your son grow, and teach him how to shoot a gun or throw a baseball," Ennis said. "Or wonder if you will ever get to see what he will look like as a young man?"
Ennis said when she found out Christy needed a transplant, she thought about those things. She thought about his young son, his wife, his children, and what they would do if Bryan couldn't find a donor in time. Ennis thought about what Adam would miss if he lost his daddy.
"And all of a sudden I thought, 'Hey, maybe I can help someone else's daddy," Ennis said. "What if I could give Bryan more time with his little boy and family?"
Through many tests, many road trips to the hospital and many answered prayers, Ennis' "what if" turned into reality. Ennis and Christy made several trips to the hospital at Chapel Hill for testing. Ennis found out she was about the best match that could be found for Christy, aside from a blood relative, and on May 1, 2012, Ennis and Christy went into surgery. The transplant was a success.
Christy said he was very thankful. Words could not express how much he appreciates Ennis, and he is thankful to God for bringing them together.
"The 'thank-yous' never end. She has been a blessing," Christy said. "I think everything happens for a reason. I don't question God's will; I just try to go with what he wants me to do."
Christy said he had a lot of time to talk with Ennis about her decision on road trips back and forth to the hospital in Chapel Hill. He said he only wanted Ennis to be sure of her decision. Ennis said it wasn't only her decision.
"The ultimate decision was left to God," Ennis said. "My prayer was, 'God, you spared my daddy. If it be your will, allow me to be a match. God use my kidney to be a help to someone else and their family.'"
Ennis said God answered her prayers. She was amazed that she was such a good match for Christy. The transplant surgeries went smooth and both Ennis and Christy were allowed to return home just four days after the surgeries. Ennis is back working light duty at the Public Safety Department and all of Christy's tests are looking excellent.
"I was only a helper in prolonging the life that God has given him," Ennis said about her donation. "I would do it all over again. Every pain and every ache I have had has been worth it to me - to see one more daddy spared and get to grow old with his children, with his family at home and with family here at Public Safety."
Morganton Public Safety Officer Felicia Ennis received a Medal of Valor commendation Monday June 18 from Public Safety Chief Mark Tolbert, left. Ennis donated a kidney to fellow officer Sgt. Bryan Christy.
Sgt. Bryan Christy gives Officer Felicia Ennis a hug during the City Council meeting Monday night June 18, 2012. Ennis received a Medal of Valor from the Public Safety Dept. for donating a kidney to Christy.
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