Tough Choices: Natalie Cole, Patty, Esther

A Life-Saving Gift

Last Christmas, Dr. Phil and Robin had dinner at music producer David Foster's house, along with Natalie Cole and Andrea Bocelli, among others. That's when they learned of Natalie's battle with kidney failure. Cameras were rolling when Natalie shared her story:

"I was on a list to receive a kidney, and I thought it was going to be three or four years, easy," she says. "So, I was on dialysis, three to four hours, three times a week. Lots of medications. And the way that it happened was, I had a procedure done in Cedars one afternoon, and I had to go on dialysis right afterward. The woman who was my nurse turned out to be an aunt in the family of the girl who would eventually pass away, and it was her kidney that I got. And when they called me about it, I was sitting with my sister at another hospital, and she was dying. She was in a coma, and they called me to say that they thought they had a match, and could I get to the hospital? And so, I eventually had to leave her, and I went to Cedars and received this new kidney, and she passed away about four-and-a-half hours later, and I got my kidney about seven hours after that. The young lady whose kidney I have, her name is Jessica. She did pass away from childbirth. I had the chance to meet the family, which was quite an experience."

[AD]Recently, Dr. Phil presented Natalie with the Spirit of Life Award from the University Kidney Research Organization, for all her efforts on behalf of organ donation.

Natalie shares how she managed her career while undergoing dialysis, and the difficulty of losing her sister at the same time she got the gift of life.

Natalie's donor, Jessica, died from complications during childbirth. Jessica's sister, Patty, and aunt, Esther, say they knew donating Jessica's organs was what she would've wanted.

Patty was nervous about meeting Natalie, because she really wanted to feel a connection to her sister. "The reason why we wanted to donate all her organs was to keep her alive, and through recipients, I can see that, I can feel her, still alive," she says.

[AD]Natalie says it was an emotional meeting for them and everyone felt a bond, especially between Patty and Natalie, who both lost their sisters.

Esther says she knew Natalie was a good person who deserved her niece's kidney. As it turns out, later they discovered one of Natalie's CDs in Jessica's belongings.

Natalie speaks to Darrell's family, and Stanley expresses his fears.

Dr. Phil tells Stanley he can help him with his fears. "I don't want you to live with the fact that your brother is gone, he has passed away, and you forever go through your life saying, ‘I might have been able to help him, at no expense to myself, and I just didn't do it.' I think that could be a real burden for the rest your life," he says.

Although Stanley is still hesitant about whether he'd agree to donate his kidney, he agrees to at least get tested to see if he's a match, and take it from there.

"Well, you might not be a compatible donor, and at least the dilemma could be resolved for you at that point. It could be a gift to yourself," Dr. Phil tells him.

[AD]Darrell says, "I just have to deal with it. If I get a donor, that's beautiful. But if not, I just have to deal with dialysis and just keep going forward."

If you are interested in being tested for a possible kidney donor match for Darrell, please submit an e-mail here. 

Members of Dr. Phil's studio audience receive a copy of Natalie's book, Love Brought Me Back.