St. Paul Woman Thankful for Gift of Life this Thanksgiving

Updated: 11/22/2012 7:10 PM By: Leslie Dyste

This Thanksgiving nearly 3 thousand Minnesotans are waiting for the gift of life. Two thirds of them are waiting for kidney transplants.

For a St. Paul woman, that wait is over.
For most of the last decade, La'Verne Berry's life revolved around doctors appointments and treatment.

"I felt like just giving up. A lot of times, I felt like giving up," La'Verne said.

For seven and a half years, she spent three hours a day, three days a week in kidney dialysis. La'Verne's diabetes had led to kidney failure and the chance of a transplant was slim.

"I never thought I would get a kidney," La'Verne said.

But La'Verne's husband Jonathan, Associate Minister at the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in St. Paul, vowed not to let her fail, even if her kidney was on a different course.

"Thank god for him, thank god for him," La'Verne said.

"For better for worse, we'll see this through to the end together," Jonathan Berry said.

Just after Thanksgiving last year, Jonathan answered a very unexpected phone call.

"Normally, I don't answer the house phone, I let it go to the message machine but something said answer the phone," Jonathan said.

He answered and immediately called La'Verne with the news.

"You got a kidney, you got a kidney, you got to call them, they got you a kidney," La'Verne said, remembering December 2, 2011.

Within hours, La'Verne was in surgery and woke up with a new kidney and a new life.

"I'm just grateful," La'Verne said.

This thanksgiving is her first since the transplant. 

"Oh god, I have so much to be thankful for, so much. I feel like I have a second chance at life," La'Verne said.

Since her transplant La'Verne has reached out to the family of her donor. She has not heard back, but she and Jonathan have been thinking about what they would say and do.

"I would thank them, I would thank them, it would probably be unceasing in my thank you's," Jonathan said.

"I think the first think I would do is just hug them and hug them, La'Verne said.

Last year 190 people died in Minnesota while waiting for a transplant.

You can register to become a donor online by clicking here.