Today, Olga Kemaev, the widow of a Russian tourist who was shot and killed in Pittsburgh met the recipient of his donated kidney. Story: https://t.co/AK30HQMO6w via @meganguzaTrib pic.twitter.com/1FvZo5wK0h
— Nate Smallwood (@nsmallwoodphoto) January 4, 2018
John Bond, 35, a former sergeant in the Minnesota National Guard, needed a kidney. The Apple Valley man’s hero is dead, shot in the head on a street in Pittsburgh. Anton Kemaev, of Siberia, wasn’t a target; he was just in the wrong place: a car in rush hour traffic.
After waiting for three years, the Bonds got their call on December 29th. They had 10 minutes to pack and hop a private plane to Pittsburgh to get Kemaev’s kidney.
In Siberia, Olga Kemaev had already gotten her phone call. Get to Pittsburgh to say goodbye to your husband.
It was Christmas weekend and the American Consulate in Russia was closed. But diplomats have a special place in their heart for a woman with three kids and a husband who’s been shot in the head. They opened up just for her visa.
The Bonds figured out whose kidney they were getting thanks to the sparse details they were given and the abundant information on the Internet about shootings in Pittsburgh.
“It was heartbreaking,” Ms. Bond tells the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “My mother found the story and we both started crying. You just realize the loss that someone has to go through in order for you to gain life.”
Yesterday, they met Olga Kemaev, Pittsburgh Trib Live reports.
“What do you say to someone who just lost her husband, whose kids just lost their father?” John Bond asked.
“He will live on,” Erin Bond told Kemaev. “Thank you for choosing to donate.”
The Bonds embraced Kemaev, whose decision ultimately helped save John Bond’s life and the lives of three others.
It’s what Anton would have wanted, Shlyakhtim said, translating for Kemaev.
“She’s very happy, and he’s very happy for helping,” he translated.
“She did, definitely, what Anton would have wanted,” Shlyakhtim said. “It doesn’t matter how bad everything is, he would come up and say, ‘Listen, this is not World War II. Let’s make better out of it.’”
Shlyakhtim said that was Anton’s last gift, to “make something good out of this nightmare.”
Anton had always dreamed of visiting the United States. He was to return home for Russian Orthodox Christmas on Sunday.
Olga will go home with his ashes.
Before they parted yesterday, Erin Bond and Mrs. Kemaev had last words.
“I love you,” Erin said.
“I love you,” Olga said.