In Death, Officer Gives Life - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/29/03 - Malakoff

In Death, Officer Gives Life

When Regina Bailey of Malakoff was just 21-years-old, she learned she had kidney failure.

At the time, doctors told Regina, with her age and blood type, finding a donor would be no problem. But as the months passed, Regina began to get more and more discouraged.

Little did she know an accident involving an East Texas police officer would lead to the new kidney she desperately needed.

Regina and her husband, Jason, were married for less than a year when they learned of her kidney failure. They never had a chance at a normal life.

"We just jumped into life and 10 months down the road she got sick and it's been dialyses ever since," Jason said.

That's why a phone call, just before Christmas, brought new hope.

"(Regina) called me and she says 'I got a kidney', and I said 'no you don't' and she said 'yeah I do' and I said 'really'."

While she didn't know it at the time, the kidney was coming from another East Texan, 24-year-old Bryan Vail.

The Henderson Police Officer was on his way home from a late shift on December 17th when he apparently fell asleep and slammed into the back of an 18-wheeler. Regina's wait was over.

"In my heart I just felt that there was something really special out there for me and it would come, I just had to wait for God's time," Regina said.

The good news was bittersweet. Once Regina learned where her new kidney came from, she immediately thought of Vail's family.

"I've always wondered how it would be not to known and not be able to say thank you to that family because that's something that I feel is important to me for them to be able to understand how much it's changed my life and how much it's still changing my life."

And as the new year approaches, she's looking forward to the future, thanks to a man who helped people in life and in death.

"For me it's a whole new life," she said. "I guess you could say I'm speechless because I get a new opportunity, I get to do things that I wanted to do and I knew I could do but they've all been put on hold... but those things don't have to be put on hold anymore."

Bailey has yet to meet the family of the man who helped to give her new life, but says she hopes that can happen in the near future. Five other Texans have received organs from Bryan Vail so far.

Chris Gibson, reporting

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