Theres a special relationship between Starbucks baristas and their regular customers. Theres more to it than just knowing their order and and making small talk, it’s actually getting to know them. When Nicole McNeil noticed that one of her regular customers was looking a little blue she decided to ask him what was wrong. After she served him his ‘trenta vanilla sweet cream cold brew with full pumps’ she wandered over to his table to see why he was feeling blue.
“He walked in and just look particularly sad. And I was just like ‘Whats- ya know, whats goin on Vince?” asked Nicole to Vince Villano, a retired military vet. As it turned out Vince was going through a lot. He had been diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney disease 11 years early, shortly after he retired as a an emergency medical technician. He served eight years in the army as a sergeant, similar to Nicoles husband, Justin McNeil. But what was bothering Vince that day was that his illness was catching up to him and he needed a kidney, and was stuck on dialysis treatments.
Vince was on the list but knew the chances of finding a donor were slim, and he still had 2 kids he needed to be around for, so thinking about the future was hard. When Nicole went home, and was telling her husband Justin about her day, she shared with him what Vince had shared with her. Justin’s response to Vince’s story shocked her. “I have a kidney,” he said, “He can have mine.”
Nicole was surprised, and also not surprised at her husbands answer. Offering to give a kidney to a total stranger sounded outrageous, but it was also something that fit his personality. “He cares about people almost more than anybody I’ve ever met. So, when he said ‘Yea I’ll give my kidney’ it seemed like “Ok, sure. Yea, you will.” But being a perfect stranger didn’t matter because when Justin met Vince the two hit it off like they were old friends, catching up after a few years apart.
The two families started hanging out more and more, and as the months went by Justin couldn’t take seeing his new friend get sicker and sicker. So he decided to get the genetic test done to see if he was a match for Vince, and their families were shocked at the results. The two were not only a perfect match for a transplant, but they were as close as genetically possible without being biologically related. This is a feat that nearly never happens, making this pairing meant to be.
The families spent Christmas together and the next day Vince and Justin were off to the transplant surgery. Of course both surgeries went well, and now Vince has a fully functioning kidney doctors say will give him another 20 years of life. And it”s crazy to think that the friendship and the life saving gesture would never have happened if it weren’t for Nicole, a cheery Starbucks barista, checking in on her regular customer.
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