MERIDIAN, Idaho — A Meridian husband and wife have something in common that very few couples can claim: Tamara and Boomer Hawks are both kidney donors.
Tamara was the first to make the life-saving sacrifice.
"My dad was in church and heard a lady in our church needed a kidney," she said. "And so he came home that day and told our family."
She got tested and was a match.
"I mean there's always moments where you get a little nervous, a little scared, but it just felt right," Tamara said. "So we did it."
In 2011 she donated a kidney to Debbie Klay, who felt better almost immediately after the transplant operation.
"It was cool to watch," Tamara said. "The night of the surgery she got up and walked a mile around the hospital she felt so good."
About a year later Tamara met Boomer at Brigham Young University.
"We kind of met through playing sports," Boomer said. "We were on the same kickball team in college, then we'd play softball together. We played basketball."
The pair flew to New York to get a car from Boomer's parents and drive it back to Utah. The cross-country trip convinced them they had a lot more in common than just sports.
"Just along the way we got to know each other really well," Tamara said.
The couple got engaged and then married, and Debbie Klay was there at their wedding.
"She showed up before, I think, my husband's parents did, she was so excited," Tamara said. "She brought me something blue, so I could borrow something blue."
While they were still engaged a college friend told them he was really sick and would eventually need a kidney.
"Tamara had already donated at that point," Boomer said. "So she was talking to him about that, and I just had this feeling that it would be me."
And it was. In July of 2018 Tamara and Boomer would gain something else in common. Both would be living kidney donors.
"I don't know if I would have been able to do it, you know, just dive in head first without her having done it first," Boomer said.
He donated a kidney to his friend Christian Morgan. The surgery went well.
"He's eating steak and drinking milk and, you know, he's living life," Boomer said.
It was a bit of a whirlwind moment in time for the Hawks. The transplant surgery happened not long after the youngest of their three children, Tyler, came into the world.
"Tamara really had to step up a lot and take care of me and three kids, and she never complained," Boomer said.
The shared experience brought the couple even closer together.
"For me it was much easier to donate than to have him donate, but it was nice to know what he was going through," Tamara said. "And to be able to relate to him that way, because not many people quite understand it."
But Christian Morgan and Debbie Klay certainly appreciate the Hawks' sacrifices - two people who can now say they each have a full life to live.
"He messages me every once in awhile just to say thank you," Boomer said.
"Just knowing that she can now go out and enjoy her family and be part of life, that makes it all worth it," Tamara said.
DONATE LIFE MONTH
April is National Donate Life Month. KTVB is once again partnering with Yes Idaho to raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation. The group says about 114,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant.
Each week this month we'll share a story of someone who has either received or given the gift of life.
If you'd like more information on being a living donor or about organ, eye and tissue donation, check out Yes Idaho's website, where you can also get more information about the first ever Dash for Donation fun run to raise awareness about organ donation.
The 5K dash and 2K walk is coming up the morning of April 27 at Julius M. Kleiner Park in Meridian. Kids, strollers and even dogs are welcome.