Communities exist because of many things: common moral values and beliefs, shared interests, location, language, culture, history, etc. However, no matter what a community is built on, it continues forward because of the kindness of those who share it, whether they know each other intimately or not.
Officer Lindsey Bittorf of Wisconsin's Milton Police Department was scrolling through Facebook in December 2016 when she came across a post by Kristi Goll, a despairing mother in nearby Janesville who had turned to social media in an attempt to save her little boy.
Goll's 8-year-old son, Jackson Arneson, had been born with Posterior Urethral Valves, a kidney condition that would eventually kill him if he did not receive a transplant. Unfortunately, many years of testing had revealed that not a single family member or friend was a match for Arneson, so Goll pleaded his case on social media.
"I always knew these days would come, it's just so hard when they are here. I have reached out before, I am just trying again to see if we can find anyone out there that would be interested in being tested. Social media has the ability to go a long ways, and Jackson's transplant social worker reassured me of this," Goll wrote in the post that was shared almost 1,500 times. "This would be the very best gift we could receive."
Bittorf was so moved by the family's story that she decided she would donate one of her kidneys if she proved a match.
"I’m pretty set in my ways, so if I set my mind to something, there’s really not talking me out of doing this. I was doing it," Bittorf told WISN.
The comments on Goll's post showed how selfless and eager to help others people can be, no matter the cost to themselves.
"I believe I'm 0+ I will call this UW number tomorrow morning — if I can help I absolutely will. Positive prayers," wrote Kathy Cantwell-Smith.
"Hi Kristi, I saw your post shared by a friend! Organ donation has greatly impacted my family over the past few years! I'm O+ and would happily be tested if needed!" Megan Doyle replied to Goll as well.
And then there came a knock on the door; it was Bittorf with life-changing news.
For a kidney transplant to be successful, the blood type of the patient and donor must be compatible, a certain number of their antigens must match, and the donor must be in excellent health and be of an appropriate age. To the shock of doctors, Bittorf, a complete stranger, was a phenomenal match for Arneson.
"This is seriously, like, meant to be," Bittorf said in an interview with WISN. "Like, it’s going to be me.”
"We went to the door and this police officer walks in," Goll recalled. "I ripped [a gift] open and I saw the word 'kidney' and I didn’t even read the rest of it. I just saw ‘kidney’ and I looked over, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, it’s you!'"
“I took an oath to serve and protect our community, and now my kidney’s going to serve and protect you," Bittorf told Arneson.
That's something a solid community can do, a community made of people like Bittorf.