A Nashville mother underwent a life-saving transplant last week when she was given her son's kidney after his untimely death.
Zona McGee battled kidney disease for two decades and had been on the transplant list for more than three years.
Her son, 20-year-old Ryan McGee, passed away on August 11. The next day, his mother received his kidney.
Ryan was diagnosed with a brain condition called Chiari, which affected his cerebral spinal fluid, in May and was in and out of the hospital all summer.
Doctors could not test Ryan's kidneys while he was alive due to the fact he might one day inherit his mother's disease.
He, however, was an organ donor and told his doctors that if anything happened to him, he wanted his mother to have his kidney.
After his passing, Ryan was immediately tested and he was a perfect match.
“At first, I said I couldn't do it, but I know he would have been so mad at me,” Zona McGee told Nashville's News 2 on Monday.
Zona McGee successfully underwent surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“When I went into that surgery, I knew he was with me. I was not afraid. I just felt like, 'Okay, Ryan, you're here with me. We're doing this together,'” said McGee.
The family said Ryan felt very strongly about organ donation and they want to share that message with others.
“It really was important to him,” said Ryan's sister, Crystal Bowron.
McGee added she finds great comfort in knowing her son helped save so many lives. She would eventually like to meet those individuals, especially the person who received his heart.
Visitation for Ryan will be held Wednesday at Sellers Funeral Home in Mt. Juliet. His funeral will take place on Thursday at 11 a.m.
A fund to help the family with funeral and other expenses has been set up. Click here for more information on how to donate.