Former police officer and boy celebrate life-saving gift

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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) (6/22/2018) - It's a story of two strangers bonded for life after a kidney transplant.

One year ago, a Milton police officer donated her kidney to Jackson Arneson, a 9-year-old boy she had never met.

"At that time like I just lost like a lot of hope," said Kristi Goll, Jackson's mom.

Goll was a mom losing hope that someone would be a lifesaving kidney donor for her son.

"We had been searching for quite a while," said Goll.

Last year, Kristi Goll posted on Facebook pleading for help.

"I have reached out before and I am trying again to see if we can find anyone out there who would be interested in being tested," said Goll.

Former Milton Police Officer Lindsey Bittorf answered that call for help.

"Time has flown so fast. I can't believe it's been a year already," said Bittorf.

Last year, she didn't know the family. She had never met Jackson but she surprised him by giving him a piece of herself.

"I've told her so many times. I don't even know how you thank somebody for doing that for you. You know, I mean as something that's so priceless," said Goll.

The road to recovery hasn't been easy for both Jackson and Bittorf.

"I didn't realize how much of a toll it did take on my body," said Bittorf.

She didn't work for about three months following the kidney transplant.

"I'm just very tired but then again working full time, part time, being a mom and a wife is tiring itself and then healing from this," said Bittorf.

For Jackson, the kidney transplant still means more hospital visits.There were complications and he got a virus that's been tough on his new kidney.

"He had to kind of back down on some of his like crucial medications so that actually caused him to go into kidney rejection. We've been back and forth from the Children's Hospital weekly for fusions and other kinds of treatment," said Goll.

It's been a year full of hospital visits. Bittorf, who was once a complete stranger, is now like family.

"As soon as she knows that he has a procedure coming up, she's always like the first to text me like 'How did it go? How are all of his levels?' She really understands a lot of his labs and stuff," said Goll.

It's a friendship most 9-year-olds don't have.

"My best friend," said Jackson.

They are forever connected.

"Because she gave me a kidney transplant and saved my life," said Jackson.

A piece of Bittorf will always with Jackson.

"I just want more connection and I just think it was the greatest drawing," said Bittorf.

As they celebrate their one year kidney-versary, Bittorf has a piece of Jackson always with her.

Learn more about University of Wisconsin's Health's living kidney donor program by clicking here.

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