'Miracle' Uber ride in South Jersey leads to driver donating kidney to passenger

ByTom Kretschmer WPVI logo
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
'Miracle' Uber ride leads to driver donating kidney to passenger
Bill Sumiel says he was on the way to a dialysis center when his Uber driver offered the gift of life: "He says, 'If you'll take my name and number, I'll give a kidney to you."

SALEM, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Bill Sumiel needed a kidney and he also needed a ride.

In 2021, Christiana Hospital arranged for an appointment at a dialysis center and sent an Uber driver to pick Sumiel up.

When Tim Letts arrived, the two instantly struck up a conversation.

"On the car ride I tell him of my dilemma," says Sumiel, who lives in Salem, New Jersey. "About halfway home after talking the whole way and slowly becoming friends, Tim tells me that 'I think God must have put you in my car.'"

Letts then offered Sumiel his kidney.

"He says, 'If you'll take my name and number, I'll give a kidney to you," Sumiel recalls. "I was shaking so hard I couldn't even write down his name and number."

The match was successful and the operation at Christiana Hospital was a success. The two have become lifelong friends all over a miracle car ride when Sumiel needed it the most.

Because of Sumiel's age, he was told he needed a kidney immediately.

And Letts, who normally worked in Cape May County, many miles to the south of Sumeil's home, just happened to be right nearby at the time of the Uber request.

"Giving a kidney is the gift of life and I feel so fortunate to have that gift. I can almost live my life back to normal, and this work (at the University of Delaware's Exercise clinic for renal rehab) is getting me closer to that every day."

"I know miracles have happened in the past. Maybe they never happened to me, maybe they have. But now I really have those beliefs reinforced."

Letts, a 33-year-old Army veteran, lives in Germany but plans to stay in contact with Sumiel through Facebook.

Sumiel continues his rehab twice a week and just passed the one-year anniversary of his kidney replacement surgery.

For more information on the rehab work at the University of Delaware Health Exercise Counseling Clinic, click here.