By writer to oklahoman.com
It’s a bond so robust Downey, whose husband, Mark, is males’s basketball coach at Northeastern State in Tahlequah, was amongst a handful of individuals invited to Gillispie’s introductory press convention. Social distancing in the course of the coronavirus pandemic restricted the group to lower than 10, however Gillispie needed her there.
And Downey needed to be there.
“I actually do really feel like I’ve obtained greater than I’ve given on this course of,” she stated.
We are able to all stand to have extra individuals in our lives who really feel like household, however for Downey, that want was magnified. Raised by her grandparents, she was by no means shut together with her mother and father. Her quick household hasn’t been a giant a part of her life, and within the years since her grandparents died, these household ties had been even fewer.
However even when Downey and Gillispie had been nonetheless on the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota recovering from the transplant, their connection began to develop. They walked the halls collectively after they may. They talked. They shared.
Earlier than the Downey headed dwelling, Gillispie needed to take her and Mark to lunch. He needed to keep within the hospital a couple of extra weeks and was nonetheless in quite a lot of ache from the transplant, however he was already feeling so significantly better.
The transplant was April 24, 2018, and the following day, he walked 4 miles across the hospital. No different transplant recipient at Mayo had ever walked that a lot that rapidly after surgical procedure.
A month later, Gillispie was again at work at Ranger Faculty, the Texas junior faculty between Fort Price and Abilene.
— to oklahoman.com