Lake County Sheriff's Office deputy donates kidney to co-worker's daughter

Posted at 4:18 PM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 17:52:30-04

There are certain bonds you form throughout your life — those with your family, your friends and your co-workers.

In the case of Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Julie Farrell, those bonds are even more special than you might imagine.

Farrell has worked at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years, starting when she was just 20 years old.

One of her closest co-workers — or her “work brother,” as she calls him — is Captain Ron Walters.

Over the years, Walters’ daughter, Amber, and Deputy Farrell bonded over their shared love of horses. Farrell watched the little girl grow up, and watched as she was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease at age 13.

Last year, when Amber was 21, doctors told her that her kidneys were failing — she needed a transplant.

Farrell remembers the day Capt. Walters told her.

“We were working on the speedway or at the fair. He was being even more quiet than usual. And I was like, ‘Ron, what’s wrong?’” Farrell said. “And he’s like, ‘Amber needs a kidney transplant,’ and I’m just like, ‘Boom, I’m the one to do it.”

No hesitation, no second-guessing. 

Farrell said she knew that instant that it was the right thing to do.

“Being in law enforcement, we take an oath that, yeah, I’m willing to take a bullet for a complete stranger or somebody,” Farrell said. “It was a no brainer because this is my little sister.”

“It was exciting. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe she’d want to do that for me,’” Amber recalled.

And miraculously, Farrell and Amber turned out to be a match. After a year of tests, they underwent a successful kidney transplant on Sept. 8. 

They are now 12 days post-op, and both women are doing incredibly well. 

Deputy Farrell will be back on duty in two weeks. Amber will recover over the next several months, then plans to go to nursing school so that she can help others.