Patrick Casey (left) and Roni Ziemba (right) in the 1980s, when the two dated for a brief time.
readers were the first
to meet Patrick Casey, a Boise man suffering from a rare liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis. Trying—and failing—for years to find a live organ donor, Casey's choices were getting narrower: ask friends and family for a portion of their liver, their financial support
or their eulogy.
That's where Roni Ziemba came in. Casey dated Ziemba, who lives in Arizona, for a brief time in the 1980s. The two hadn't spoken in more than 25 years, but reconnected over social media. At first Casey didn't want to talk about his PSC, but the subject eventually came up. When Ziemba heard, she wanted to help. As it turned out, with a compatible blood type, she could do a lot more than help: She could give him half her liver.
"I want Clare [Casey's daughter] to have more time with her father. As much time as she can have," Ziemba told Boise Weekly
in December 2013.
Patrick Casey (left) and Roni Ziemba (right), reconnected after 25 years. Asked about a rekindled romance, Ziemba told Boise Weekly, "Ain't gonna happen."
After a months-long process of testing and paperwork, Ziemba was finally cleared by doctors to give a portion of her liver to Casey—and just in time. This summer
, Casey took a turn for the worse, needing open heart surgery before he could undergo the transplant operation. The heart surgery was a success, and now Casey and Ziemba are—finally—going under the knife at a Chicago hospital today