COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- Wilson Abernathy is all business at Battlefield Park Body Shop in Colonial Heights. But his days at work were getting numbered.
He needed a new kidney.
While at home in Matoaca, a chance call, in February, from a former neighbor changed his life.
"He said I'm not doing well," neighbor Becky Ivins recalled.
Abernathy explained to his neighbor that he either needed a new kidney or go on dialysis.
"So what's your blood type," Ivins asked.
Abernathy told her he was A Negative.
Ivins is also A Negative.
"I said wow, no kidding... you can have mine," she said.
Abernathy said his neighbor's live-saving gesture left him overcome with emotion.
Abernathy and Ivins met in 2006 when Ivins, a single mom, moved in next door with her four young children.
The "family next door" quickly became part of the family.
"I have a big family, none of them live in the area, so here I am, down here by myself, I've got these awesome neighbors and a fun family, Church Community, and Wilson and Joni became the Grandparents to my kids, that they didn't have in the area," Ivins said.
"Grand kids, no other way to put it," Abernathy chimed in. "They were great kids, all of them... she's done an amazing job raising those kids."
A few years later, circumstance forced Becky to find another home."I didn't want to move away from the community.""I didn't want to move away from the community that I was raising my kids in and where they were going to school and church," Ivins said. "Wilson came to the rescue."
Abernathy and his wife found a home for Ivins and the children to live so they would not have to leave the community.
"I went and bought it, gave her the keys and said you can rent it as long as you want to, stay as long as you want to," Abernathy said.
Ivins eventually got back on her feet and bought a house of her own.
"We always kept in touch, not always regularly, that sort of ebb and flowed," Ivins said.
The the phone call in February.
Weeks of tests followed to check to see if they were a match. Five months later, with all the tests showing Ivins' kidney was a perfect match for Abernathy, they went into side by side operating rooms.
"We knew it was going to work because we had both prayed about it and thought about it and consoled our mates, so it works," Abernathy said.
Just hours after the kidney transplant was completed, Ivins and Abernathy were able to reunite. A moment captured on video.
Both now are doing well.
While some may think Ivins was trying to pay Abernathy back, both contend that was never their thought.
"It was about the friendship and just doing the right thing, saving somebody's life," they said. "It's a miracle, it's a God-send thing, no other way to put it, it's God sent."
Months after the surgery, both Ivins and Abernathy said they're healing nicely.
Ivins said her new mission in life is to educate others about organ donation.BY WAYNE COVIL AND WEB STAFF