One year ago, Rickie Wheeler, 25, and his family received the ultimate Christmas gift they waited two years for: a kidney and pancreas transplant.
"When I got the phone call saying that I had an hour to get there, I just basically jumped in the shower and put on my clothes," says Wheeler, who has been a lifelong diabetic.
On the one year anniversary of his transplant, a now healthy Wheeler stopped by the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute with cupcakes as a thank you for being his "guardian angels."
"Some of the other patients they just kick in your mind sometimes, ‘Oh I wonder how he's doing?' and this is one of the person I really think about sometimes, and I'm so glad he's doing good," says R.N. Shehnaz Nansiuiani.
While the sweet surprise was Wheeler's way of saying thank you, for the doctors and nurses who treated him seeing Wheeler healthy is thanks enough.
"Just seeing folks in clinic, seeing them do real well, that's thanks enough because when you see folks and they're happy after they've been sick for so long, that alone is fantastic," says Dr. Min Yoo, a Transplant Fellow at Methodist University Hospital.
Wheeler's mother, Lily Rogers, says while they are able to thank the doctors and nurses at the hospital, they do not know who or where the 16-year-old donor's family is to thank them in the same way.
"I don't know who the donor was but I want to let them know that they live on in Rickie whoever it is," says Rogers, "We're grateful, we're appreciative and as a mother I was to say thank you because we're truly grateful for everything."
Wheeler says since his transplant he's living life to the fullest; his current endeavor is finding a job in the automotive industry.