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Teen to give kidney to sick grandfather after searching years for a match

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Maddie Sabourin, 18, is a high school senior at Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, but she's often in Mareitta sitting by her sick grandfather's side

ROME, Ga. — A high school student has been searching for years, trying to find a kidney match for her sick grandfather. This past weekend, she got news she had long been waiting for — a perfect match has finally been found.

Maddie Sabourin, 18, is a high school senior at Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, but she’s often in Mareitta sitting by her sick grandfather’s side.

“Watching papa just be on the transplant list for the past six years has been super hard,” said Sabourin. “We’ve always been really close.”

Sam Senseney, 63, needs a new kidney. Right now, he’s getting by with dialysis three days a week, four hours a day.

“It pretty much wipes me out,” said Senseney. “It has just really taken a toll on me.”

His entire family, and even friends, have been tested as potential donors, but no one was a match, and there are 2,000 other people on the Georgia kidney transplant list.

For the past two years, as Maddie was a contestant in the Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen Pageant, her platform was obvious — raising awareness for organ donation. She personally raised $7,500 for the American Kidney Fund in hopes that her grandfather would receive a kidney transplant.

The day after her 18th birthday, she finally got the chance she’d been waiting for, which is to find out if she could be a donor.

“Originally, they told me no,” she said.

But Maddie was indeed a match. However, doctors thought she was just too young to donate.

“This wasn’t something that I was just going to let go,” she said. “When I knew that I was a match, I knew that this was in God’s plan for me.”

“She took me by surprise and she made a little card,” said Senseney.

Maddie convinced doctors to let her donate, and with a letter letting her grandpa know one of her kidneys would soon be his.

“I just sat there and looked at it, and was like there’s no way,” said Senseney.

“It’s just amazing to know that after all my hard work and advocating, that I’m going to be the one,” she said.

Next week, Maddie and her grandfather go in to meet with the doctors and set a date for surgery, which they hope will be within the next month.

“For as long as I’ve been looking for a kidney, and then she comes along and just has one, and everything is a match, and everything is perfect. It just pretty much blew me away,” said Senseney.

“Papa is going to get all of his energy back, and he’s going to live the life he did six years ago,” she said. “And I’m going to get my best bud back!”

Maddie will have to spend three weeks out of school her senior year of high school, but says it is well worth it to save the life of her grandpa.

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