JANESVILLE, Wis. May 17 2017
A police officer in Rock County is going above and beyond the call of duty to donate a kidney to a little boy she'd just met.
Milton Township police officer Lindsey Bittorf was perusing Facebook in early December when she came across a post from a Janesville mother who'd made a public plea for potential donors.
Kristi Goll turned to social media after years of testing determined that friends and family weren't a match for her boy, 8-year-old Jackson Arneson, who was born with a condition called Posterior Urethral Valves.
Jackson’s father, Gregg, was a promising candidate, but doctors ultimately ruled him out after discovering he had a minor heart condition.
"Virtually, his kidney function has always been below 30 percent," Goll explained of her son's condition.
Bittorf doesn't know the family but was among the thousands to read the mother's plea. She was compelled to get tested.
"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," she said.
Bittorf passed the initial health test. She and Jackson both had blood type O+. She was within the age range and in general good health. For a kidney transplant, both people involved need to match a certain number of antigens. Bittorf and Jackson matched three, more than enough to proceed with a transplant.
“And they (doctors) were kind of shocked like for a person who is not related, you are a pretty good match," said Bittorf. "This seriously like meant to be. Like it’s going to be me."
Bittorf surprised Jackson and his family with the good news at their home last week.
"We went to the door and this police officer walks in," Goll said, recalling the moment she met officer Bittorf. "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!'"
Cell phone video shot by Goll's mom that day captured Bittort telling Jackson why she was giving him her kidney.
“I took an oath to serve and protect our community and now my kidney is going to serve and protect you,” she said.
Jackson now has a new hero. She’s a police officer, a mom, and until last week, a complete stranger. Now they share a bond that will last a lifetime.
Both Jackson and officer Bittorf are scheduled for transplant surgery on June 22.