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A life-saving gift

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Valdosta - You could call Shirley Bennett a lifesaver. "I do what I can do to make other people lives better," said Bennett.

Not only did she make her cousin Mark's life better, she gave him a new life. Mark was diagnosed with kidney disease when he was four, and had his kidney's removed last November. "Your life is controlled by dialysis, four hours a day, every other day," said Potter.

Shirley and Mark weren't really close, and only saw each other once a year at family reunions. But when she found out he needed a kidney, she jumped at the chance to help. "She called and said I'm going to be a match and she knew right then she was going to be a match," said Potter.

Five weeks ago, Shirley traveled to Ft. Myers Florida and gave her cousin Mark the gift of life. "There is no way for me to describe to you how wonderful it makes me feel to know that Mark now has a normal life," said Bennett.

The surgery was a success. Now Mark can enjoy simple tasks we often take for granted. "I peed, I peed for the first time by myself in eight months and its things like that we take for granted but people who are on dialysis, we're not allowed to take that for granted," said Potter.

Five weeks after the transplant, both Shirley and Mark are doing great. The cousins who barely knew each other a few months ago are now great friends who talk on the phone often and share a special connection. "I don't know how to describe the kind of bond you have after you go through that with someone," said Bennett.

A bond that gave Mark a second chance at living. "This is my life, a brand new life," said Potter.

posted by ashley.harper@walb.com

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