Local kidney donor gets “a hero’s homecoming”

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A local kidney donor got a surprise homecoming that inspired tears on Thursday in Panama City.

Jennifer Bowman recently donated her kidney to another Panama City resident, Melanie Taylor, who had been looking for a donor for months.

“Some days are extremely emotional. One day you hear there might be a donor and then you find out something happened and they’re not going to be a match,” said Taylor. “It just meant so much to me that Jennifer was willing to do it. I will forever be grateful to her for giving me my health back.”

On Thursday, Bowman came home to find her street lined with neighbors, friends, and coworkers from Beachy Beach Real Estate cheering her on for what they called “a hero’s homecoming.”

“I wanted her to feel the love, not just see it,” said Heather Denaro, a long-time friend of Bowman’s who organized the event. “I have so much admiration. Could I have done it? I don’t know, I just admire her so greatly.”

Bowman said the whole thing was a complete surprise that had her in tears all the way down the street, and that when it comes to donating organs to someone else, she would do it again in a heartbeat.

“If you’re healthy enough, I think God gave us extra body parts to help each other,” she said. “Especially with all this community has been through in the last several years, it was very rewarding.”

Bowman said that she and Taylor are both recovering well and have become like sisters throughout the entire transplant experience.

“She is my new sister, she does carry a part of me with her,” said Bowman. “I just feel honored that I could help her live a longer life.”

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