St. Cloud woman doesn't think twice about donating kidney to her ex-husband

When you're 14 and you're in love, relationships seem so simple.

Mary Zeigler remembers dating her first and only boyfriend, Bill Henrichs.

"He was a musician and I would hang out with him when he would be in the band and help drag around the amplifiers all over the place,” she said.

As soon as they turned 18, Bill and Mary headed to the altar. They had only ever dated each other, and back then that was the natural progression. Fourteen years later they had two children, Matthew and Macy. But as time went on, Bill and Mary grew up and apart.

"Bill's very cerebral. I'm very athletic and we just you know had less and less things in common," Mary said.

So, after 24 years of marriage, Bill and Mary decided to divorce. Matthew and Macy were just eight and five. The couple was determined to get along for their kids, for the long haul.

"I mean whatever happened, happened. You have to take from it and move forward," Mary said.

And that's when Bill and Mary's story goes from "good for them" to "wait, what?"

"Linda came into the picture and I will say it the rest of my life - I thank God for her coming into our life."

Bill remarried to his second wife, Linda. She and her two daughters from a previous marriage quickly blended in.

"That pretty much sums it up. That he never left our family and Linda joined it," Mary said.

Smack dab in the middle is Bill.

"I trust them both. I trust after so many years of getting along, working through it, I know that there's not gonna be any strange issues. We'll just get together and get it done."

That's where Bill and Mary and Linda's story goes from "wait, what?" to "get outta town."

As Mary puts it, "It's kind of an unusual story."

In February 2018, Bill found out he needed a kidney transplant; he needed to find a donor. 

"Things were just starting to point my direction… and sent the first round of blood work down and not only were we a good match, but they said we shared some antigens," Mary said.

Mary tested at the Mayo Clinic and was a solid match.

"For me, it wasn't even a decision. It was kinda like him calling up and saying, 'can you come over and help us rake leaves?' That's how I think of it,” Mary said.

This past October, 44 years after she gave Bill her heart, Mary gave him her kidney.

"The month before I really dialed in my diet really drank a lot of water. I mean I gave him a nice fat voluptuous kidney."

Bill adds, "The doctor did say it was an excellent kidney when I woke up."

She fulfilled a promise she had made so many years earlier, in a way no one could've imagined. Mary says her kids love telling people the story. 

"They knew that if mom could do something for dad she would and they were proud of me."

Whether you're 14 or 62, relationships are rarely simple.

"There were times we might not have agreed but we kept it between us. It was never bringing the children into it," Linda added.

You don't have to be a good match to be a good example.

"If this story changes one person's actions or attitude towards their ex, it'll be all worth it,” Mary said.