One mom's baby had died. Another mom had kidney failure. How an organ donation bound them together

Call it a miracle or an act of god. 

Maybe it's sweet serendipity or one of life's greatest mysteries.

Call it whatever you'd like, but the story of Julie Elster and Sonya Cook is one of tragedy turned salvation.

Elster's 2-year-old daughter Lynn Mei was succumbing to the flu when she died.

"And I screamed 'no, no.'" she said, through tears. "I picked her up and she was lifeless. My world fell apart."

Little did Elster know, her daughter's passing would bind her to a path she couldn't imagine when Mei was born. When doctors told her that Mei could still help others, she felt elation.

"They said 'she's got two healthy kidneys and we have someone right in Detroit who can take them' and I was just thrilled," said Elster.

That someone was Sonya Cook. Cook was traveling down an equally tragic path. She had been hit with kidney disease when she learned she was pregnant. Doctors told her she should end the pregnancy.

"I had physicians literally tell me to terminate the child," said Cook. 

Instead, she gave birth to Naya. That's when complications arose and her kidneys failed. Her baby had been born at 23 weeks and weighed a meager one pound one ounce. 

"So I have all of this on my mind," Cook said. "What am I going to do? And I prayed and I prayed and I said I'm going to fight. That's what I'm going to do, I'm going to fight."

Cook then received the call that an organ donor was available. While Cook would have trouble taking the kidneys, her faith wasn't about to waiver.

"My daughter was 2 at the time and laying beside me," she recalled. "I couldn't understand how I could take two kidneys, or a kidney period, from a 2-year-old baby that had just passed."

"And the reason being is because I knew her mom had just lost her and I looked at my child, kissed her and I knew then it would be okay."

That was years ago. Today, her daughter Naya is a teenager.

"We're bonded spiritually and physically, so just every once and awhile she lets me touch her kidneys and I say hi to my baby." said Elster.

Cook emphasized the importance of organ donations, especially in the minority community. If you'd like to participate in the discussion or are interested in becoming an organ donor, head to to learn more.