YouTube, Heather Winfree

Man with kidney disease discovers wife is donor match from baseball card

By Tracie Snowder, KSL.com | Posted - Jul. 12, 2017 at 8:11 a.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A baseball fanatic who needed a new kidney found out his wife was a donor match — all from a brand new pack of baseball cards.

Steve Winfree has been battling kidney disease since he was diagnosed 14 years ago at the age of 18 during a physical for his future college basketball team. After discovering his kidney was only working at 50 percent capacity, he had to give up his dreams of playing college ball, CBS News reported.

He had a toe amputated and has been on dialysis for over a year, WATE.com in Knoxville reported. He desperately needed a new kidney because of his severe health problems. And when his wife found out she was a match, she found an extra-special way to tell him.

Heather Winfree surprised Steve with a new pack of Topps baseball cards, and captured his reaction on video. An enthusiastic collector, Steve eagerly flipped through the cards, excited to get Mike Trout and Platinum Presence Clint Frazier cards.

But when he got to the end of the pack, he stopped, not recognizing the player at first — the last card that had his name and picture on it. The video shows him reading out loud what the card says on the back and when he gets to the word “recipient,” he realizes Heather is giving him a life-saving kidney and is overcome with emotion.

The card reads in full:

“Steve has had a lot on his plate. With his health issues, he has been striking out a lot. He was not sure how he was going to wind up. His wife, Heather, thinks he is a great catch so she decided to go to bat for him. Now Steve will be a rookie recipient at Vanderbilt Transplant Center where his wife, Heather, will be pitching a new kidney to him. They are sure to hit it out of the ballpark together!”

The emotional moment has been viewed millions of times on YouTube and Twitter.

I'M GETTING A NEW KIDNEY!! MY WIFE IS A MATCH!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!! I'M BAWLING MY EYES OUT RIGHT NOW! We got the reaction on film too!! — Knoxville Kidney Guy (@Steve_Winfree) July 7, 2017

> Moment my wife informed me she is a match donating her kidney to me!!! She made a custom baseball card from [@Topps](https://twitter.com/Topps)! > > — Knoxville Kidney Guy (@Steve\_Winfree) [July 7, 2017](https://twitter.com/Steve_Winfree/status/883159800279859200)

> Thank you [@Topps](https://twitter.com/Topps) for sending us these amazing custom cards from our big night! These are amazing! [@Cut4](https://twitter.com/Cut4) [@MLB](https://twitter.com/MLB) [@beckettmedia](https://twitter.com/beckettmedia) [\#Aspire2Inspire](https://twitter.com/hashtag/Aspire2Inspire?src=hash) [pic.twitter.com/WrajqLKNBO](https://t.co/WrajqLKNBO) > > — Knoxville Kidney Guy (@Steve\_Winfree) [July 8, 2017](https://twitter.com/Steve_Winfree/status/883783472871067648)

“The line that made me cry was, ‘rookie recipient at Vanderbilt,'” Steve told WATE.com.

Heather worked with Topps to make a custom card featuring Steve before she knew she was a match.

"I had already started planning how I was going to tell him before I knew I was a match," Heather told CBS News. "I never considered I wouldn't be a match. I guess I had to have faith I was going to be a match — that was keeping my hope alive."

Although he didn't realize his wife was going to tell him she was a match, Steve said he suspected something was going on when his wife told him to go get a new haircut.

“I knew something was up because you told me to go to Sports Clips and get the ‘MVP’,” Steve said to Heather in the video. “The ‘MVP’ is too expensive,” Heather explained to the camera.

Steve told MLB.com that when he first looked at the card, he saw the word "recipient" where the player position is usually located.

"I saw it coming," he said. "But I lost it and I asked her, 'You want to save my life?'"

The couple hopes that by sharing the video, they can give hope to others who are waiting for a donor.

SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast