When Graham Nesbitt managed a skating rink in Seaforth, Ontario, he often opened the rink early and stayed late, in all kinds of weather, to make sure aspiring hockey players could get in as much time on the ice as possible. It turns out that two of the kids who skated on that rink, Ryan and Cal O’Reilly, made it all the way to the National Hockey League.
And now, the boys’ mother has given Nesbitt an incredible gift in return, in an amazing and improbable story.
Bonnie O’Reilly donated a kidney to Nesbitt earlier this month after she was identified as a match for the former rink manager, who needed a kidney transplant in his battle with Berger’s disease. As the Good News Network noted, “When the community learned Nesbitt needed a kidney donation, local folks lined up to be tested to see if they might be a match. One of those people was Bonnie O’Reilly.”
Once O’Reilly learned she was a match, she decided to charge ahead with the surgery. “She says that ‘What you’ve done for my boys, helping them achieve their goal of playing professional hockey, it’s the least we can do,’” said Graham’s son, Joe Nesbitt, quoting O’Reilly in a conversation with CBC.
Ryan captains the St. Louis Blues, and the club’s social media team shared out best wishes along with a photo of the duo recovering.
Pam Nesbitt, Graham’s wife, also took to social media to express her thanks.
“From our family to you and yours Bonnie, thanks for the gift of a lifetime,” she said on Facebook. “Your selfless act means more than you’ll ever know.”
“Something my dad’s always taught me is to be kind and helpful and generous to everybody,” said Joe. “It just goes to show that those thoughtful acts and caring for people, it pays off. It truly paid off for my dad and saved his life.”