Starbucks customer receives lifesaving kidney from his barista's husband
Head to any Starbucks around the globe, and the least you should be able to expect is that they'll do their best to be helpful. That's not always the case, mind you - this is 2018, after all - but when you're desperately in need of a caffeine burst or a break from the working stress, a barista's smile can really make your day.
Some baristas go above and beyond to ensure that you're having a good day, but none will have gone as far as this Starbucks server out in DuPont, Washington state. Having heard that one of their regular customers was dying, this barista got them a lifesaving kidney transplant, with a little help from her husband.
Two years ago, doctors told Vince Villano that his kidney disease - diagnosed when he was 30 - had reached an advanced stage. Villano has a condition called polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which is a genetic condition that causes fluid-filled cysts to grow on the kidneys, ultimately leading to kidney failure.
PKD was a condition that had afflicted every generation of Villano's family - going back to his great-grandmother, who died of the condition - and the disease was worsening to the point that he required hours of dialysis every day, and would soon die if he didn't get a kidney transplant.
In January 2017, the 41-year-old walked into his regular Starbucks, and talked to his regular barista, a lady by the name of Nicole McNeil. He was feeling down, so he told Nicole about his deteriorating condition, and she told her husband Justin McNeil when she got home after her shift.
"Right away, he said: 'Well, I have a kidney, He can have mine'. It doesn't surprise me. He's that generous and that kind - and it doesn't surprise any of our friends who've heard about this. They're like: 'Of course Justin would do this'."
So Nicole introduced the two together, and they became fast friends - but more importantly, they were an instant match for the kidney. "I invited [Vince] to my birthday party and then he started coming over for parties on the holidays and then he and Justin started hanging out on their own," explained Nicole.
Turns out, Justin and Villano had a shared love of camping and fishing, and as Army veterans, they had an instant connection. Justin told Villano of his plans to test his kidneys for a match, and while he was skeptical that they'd be a match, Villano gave him the green light.
As it turns out, they were a match. After a year of research - involving a series of blood tests that would determine whether or not the new kidney would properly adapt to the host - Justin's kidney was declared a match, and the operation could begin.
"All of sudden, it was like this is not just a pipe dream anymore, this is actually happening," said Nicole, and on Boxing Day, the transplant went down. While Villano will have to remain in hospital until New Year's Day and will require medication for the rest of his life, doctors say the new kidney could keep him alive for another 20 years.
What a heartwarming story, and you can bet the next time Vince Villano walks into his favourite Starbucks, he'll be sure to give his favourite barista an extra-large tip.