‘God must have put you in my car’
It was the ride of a lifetime.
A New Jersey man in desperate need of a kidney says he’s been given “the gift of life” after an Uber driver unexpectedly offered up his own organ for donation.
Bill Sumiel, 71, was picked up from a dialysis center in Newark, Delaware on Oct 30. 2021 by Tim Letts, 33, who was working for the ride-share app.
The pair quickly struck up a conversation on the 30-minute drive back to Sumiel’s home in Salem, New Jersey, with Letts learning the devout Christian had been in desperate need of a kidney transplant for more than three years.
“On the car ride I told him of my dilemma,” Sumiel stated in an interview with ABC6. “About halfway home after talking the whole way and slowly becoming friends, Tim tells me that ‘I think God must have put you in my car.’”
To Sumiel’s amazement, Letts impulsively offered to donate one of his kidneys.
“[He said] If you’ll take my name and number, I’ll give a kidney to you,” Sumiel recalled. “I was shaking so hard I couldn’t even write down his name and number.”
In order to qualify for the donation, Letts needed compatible blood and tissue typing. True to his word, the Uber driver, who is also an Army veteran, went for testing, where it was determined he was a match.
For Letts, the decision to donate came easily.
“I was inspired by how genuine this man was,” he told Town Square Delaware of his first meeting with Sumiel. “He was happy. He was kind and you could tell he was suffering, but he didn’t let that fact protrude.”
“I didn’t want to look in the mirror later down the road and think, ‘Wow, man, you suck. You could have done something and you didn’t, because you talked yourself out of it or because you let other people talk you out of it,’” Letts continued. “Good people need good people to stand by them, and don’t call yourself a good person if you’re not willing to stand by another good person.”
Thankfully for Sumiel, the surgery was successful and his body accepted Letts’ kidney.
Almost two years on from his miraculous meeting with Letts, Sumiel has said he is almost living life as normal.
“Giving a kidney is the gift of life and I feel so fortunate to have that gift. I can almost live my life back to normal,” he stated.
“I know miracles have happened in the past. Maybe they never happened to me, maybe they have. But now I really have those beliefs reinforced.”
In the time since the surgery, Letts has relocated to Stuttgart, Germany, but still keeps in constant touch with Sumiel. The pair say they will be friends for the rest of their lives.
“I don’t think that politics or background really define whether two souls can be friends or not,” Letts declared. “I saw somebody that I felt a connection to, somebody that I felt I could make a difference for.”