Matchmaking for Life

It’s not uncommon to go online, looking for love. But what Bob Golden and Beth Ann Willstrop discovered online was chemistry unlike any other – becoming the perfect match for organ donation.

“That’s not the match I meant,” said Beth laughingly. The retired San Antonio English teacher didn’t get the story-book ending, but she did end up with a story to tell about friendship and giving the gift of life.

Bob was a transplant to San Antonio, where a business deal went belly-up, along with the economy and his marriage in 2008. The millennial who lived next door saw Bob’s predicament, and created a account to send messages to various women on Bob’s behalf.  Beth was a client, too, searching online she said, “To avoid settling for the typical barroom date.” She agreed to meet Bob for dinner.

After 4 dates, Bob had come to a conclusion.

“I realized that what was blossoming here was a deep-rooted friendship,” he said.

Although his personal life was looking up, Bob’s financial situation continued to plummet. When the bank foreclosed on his home, Bob found himself living in his car. That’s when his new-found friend Beth decided to take him into her home.

“He loves to cook; I hate to cook,” she said. “It made for a great arrangement, and we both kind of grew on each other.”

These two friends continued to live as brother and sister until Bob contracted a urinary tract infection in the fall of 2013 which led to acute, stage 4 kidney failure.  A kidney transplant was his only hope, and Beth was first to register as a potential donor.

“I admired how he would not give in to the disease.  I could tell when he would be having particularly bad days, but he never took me with him down those paths,” she said. “Instead, he never failed to fix dinner for me the entire time he was so ill.”

On Christmas Day, December 25, 2015, Bob Golden celebrated his 70th birthday. And on that day his roommate surprised him with the gift of life. A gift Bob says he will never forget.

“If the tables were turned, I would’ve given one of my kidneys for her. It’s that simple,” said Bob.

They tell their story in the kitchen, picking up the tale where the other leaves off, as Bob is baking Christmas cookies and Beth is preparing coffee.  They banter much like a married couple: she with a joke about his failing memory and his retort about her donating some of her brain, next.

It has been 7 months since the organ donation and transplant, and Bob has regained his strength and his vigor. He has gone back to work and watches Beth’s home when she travels.

Both continue to enjoy each other’s company under the same roof. And both continue to search for that perfect match.

“We’ve even been out on a few, double-dates,” said Beth with a chuckle.