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Becca Sprague gives sister the 'gift of life'

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By Panzi Blackwell

This week, in the traditional season of the giving of gifts,  Fayette Faces continues the theme of “Unwrapped Gifts” with  the story of the Sprague sisters and the life-giving gift Becca gave to her sister, Samantha.
Becca gave Samantha the chance of a better life through the ”unwrapped gift” of a kidney.
The most precious of gifts are not wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons, but rather in the love, compassion and caring of the giver, the gifts from the heart. Meet Becca and Samantha Sprague.
Sisterly Love and Concern…
…was immediately felt by Becca Sprague when her younger sister, teenager Samantha, was found to be in need of a kidney transplant.
In 2003, Samantha received a cadaver donor kidney transplant, which was not successful. “That was the year I graduated from high school,” she said.
“In 2004, my body rejected the kidney and they gave me dialysis, which gave my kidney a jump-start and gave me a few more years, to get through. ”
Becca went ahead with testing for donating her kidney, without telling Samantha.
“I didn’t really tell her I was getting tested to find out if I was a match. I wanted to give her one of mine, so she could have a good life,” Becca said.
The main hurdle seemed to be convincing Samantha to accept the gift. Their parents stayed out of it, and let the girls work it out between themselves.
Samantha also felt the same sisterly love and concern for Becca.
“I felt like I was ruining her life,” Samantha said. “She wasn’t; she was just giving me a gift, but it made me feel guilty. It finally got so bad, it was a transplant or dialysis.”
Samantha had been on both hemodialysis and peritineal dialysis in the past, and she finally accepted her sister’s gift of love, a chance of a better life. The transplant was successfully performed three years ago, on Jan. 3, 2008.
Samantha is married now and anticipating becoming pregnant in the future.
Samantha is enthused and happy about her life. “I have a husband, Steve Crothers, now and he came with a built-in son, and, oh my goodness, I love him (son) to pieces. He is so funny,” she said.
“I haven’t really had any problems,” Samantha said.
“You have to wait two years after a transplant to try for a baby. Now, we can try for a baby together, and I’m so excited. We are putting it off for a little while longer, because Steve is in college right now.“
Becca also has experienced no problems.
“They said it (transplant surgery) went off ‘textbook perfect,’ and it actually started producing urine before they even stitched it,” she said.
Samantha gives Becca credit for taking such good care of her kidney before the transplant.
“I think the reason (the kidney is so good) is that Becca didn’t drink any caffeine for a whole year before the transplant, and she doesn’t smoke or drink,” Samantha said.
“She really took care of it, but now I get to babysit it. “
“They said caffeine wasn’t good for the kidney, because it overworks them, so not to drink a whole lot of it. So I just decided that I wouldn’t drink any, so she would have a good kidney,” Becca said.
There is an obvious closeness between the sisters, and they acknowledged that that has always been the case.
“We slept in the same bed, and when she was on dialysis, I’d have to wake her up when the alarm went off,” Becca said.
Samantha added, “There are five of us kids, and we’re all best friends, they are my best friends. I can tell them anything and they can tell me anything. Most siblings aren’t that close and some don’t understand.”
Samantha works at KFC in Vandalia, near the Dialysis Center. She loves her job “a lot”  and especially enjoys visiting with the patients who come to the restaurant following their dialysis treatments.
Becca is in the massage therapy program at Kaskaskia College and she woks as a CNA at Carlyle Hope Center. She previously worked at the Vandalia Rehabilitation and Health Care Center before moving to Caryle. She had also previously worked a KFC, and the sisters both commented on the wonderful support that KFC gave them at the time of the transplant.
It’s an “unwrapped gift” that has enabled Samantha to have a more normal, better life…even to give life as she anticipates raising a family. And Samantha overcame her reluctance to accept that gift, enabling Becca to fulfill her desire to give her sister a chance at a better life.
A happy ending to a beautiful story of love and the precious gifts that are wrapped only in the love and compassion of the giver.
We should remember, however, that the most precious gift to all mankind was wrapped “in swaddling clothes,” and must also be received by the recipient to truly be the gift of life.