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Woman Donates Kidney To Hubby's Ex-Wife Days After Wedding

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
AP photo
The Florida Channel
Two days after Debby-Neal Strickland, front left, and Jim Merthe were married in November, Debby donated a kidney to James' ex-wife Mylaen Merthe, center back, as the three get together Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at a restaurant in Ocala.

An unusual story? Yes. But the tale of Jim Merthe and his two wives is a testament to how love and compassion can triumph over division.

They aren't supposed to get along, let alone be friends, but this new wife and ex-wife say they're sisters for life after a kidney transplant.

In November, Debby Neal-Strickland put on a lace gown and married her longtime sweetheart, Jim, at their church near their Ocala home.

Two days later, she put on a hospital gown and donated a kidney to her new husband’s ex-wife.

Divorced nearly 20 years ago, Jim Merthe and Mylaen Merthe, his ex, have always gotten along raising their two adult children.

Mylaen, 59, had long struggled with kidney disease. Her brother offered to donate a kidney, but wasn’t a match so Debby volunteered.

Jim and Mylaen's daughter, Sami Vernon, of Safety Harbor, was due to give birth to their first grandbaby last fall. Debby says it was her mission to help Mylaen meet her grandchild, saying God told her she would be a match.

Mylaen eventually moved in with her daughter, son-in-law and baby Jackson to recuperate.

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