A photo of a Florida resident who lost power during Hurricane Irma has gained traction online for its unique combination of sexy and inspiring. In it, Kynse Leigh, a recent organ-transplant recipient, stands in front of her house and some downed tree branches while making a plea through a hot-pink-lettered sign: “Hot single female seeks sexy lineman to electrify her life.” It’s received hundreds of shares on Facebook.
“That was my idea. I like to be humorous,” Leigh, 37, tells Yahoo Lifestyle about the photo. “Anything to bring humor to a s***ty situation, I’m all for.”
It’s the right attitude, considering the particular spot that Leigh, of Fort Myers, found herself in. Just two weeks ago, the divorced mom of one underwent a double organ transplant — of her pancreas and a kidney — due to kidney failure as a result of living with type 1 diabetes since childhood.
The transplant went well, she says, but in the hospital’s rush to discharge patients before Irma hit, Leigh was let out a bit too early and found that she had to return to the hospital after spending a difficult night in a nearby hotel. “So I rode out the storm at Tampa General Hospital,” she says, even as the place was running on generator power and its entire staff was stranded onsite for five days due to the closure of a bridge connecting the hospital’s island to the mainland.
Finally, she was ready to leave the hospital for real but found that the storm-damaged community was ill-prepared to receive her. “I came home to no power,” says the recovering patient, “and I’ve been moving around to friends’ couches.” Thus, the posting of her amusing, attention-grabbing sign. “I said, ‘I want my bed, I’m single, it’s hot outside, I need electricity.”
Luckily, her plan was a success: The attention on Facebook landed Leigh, owner of Re/Max Dream real estate in Fort Myers, on a local radio show Monday morning. “A group of linemen heard me,” she says, and by afternoon, her power lines had been repaired.
It was just the latest joyous news for Leigh, who’s been sharing the personal journey of her transplant surgery in a series of YouTube and Facebook live posts, including the moment when she learned that her organ donor had been found, and she turned the camera on herself and her son, 8.
“It was very, very emotional, and it was awesome that he was there with me,” she says, noting that she’d spent 100 days on the donor list until being found on Facebook by the mom of a 15-year-old boy who had accidentally shot himself. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking,” says Leigh. “But his mom thanked me for adding a little bit of joy to the situation. … She can see the joy in people’s lives that he did save.” In addition to Leigh, there were other recipients who received his lungs, his other kidney, and his heart, which went to a 16-year-old girl.
“I’m trying to get as many people as possible to be organ donors, because they don’t know how important it really is. Raising awareness is my main goal in life,” Leigh says, explaining why she’s been so public about her experience. “Twenty-two people die each day waiting for organ transplants, and there are over 140,000 people currently waiting in the U.S. for transplants.”
Amazingly, Leigh’s personal struggles of the past two weeks have not stymied her own generous spirit: While still in the hospital, she started organizing a community-support effort along with other local real estate companies and a mortgage broker. “Our town was pretty much devastated in the storm,” she says. Because she knew that not everyone would have the means to eat out or check themselves into hotels, the effort sent warm meals to more than 600 people in need. And so, despite having just received her new organs, she says, “I cooked two huge pots of chili,” while restaurants made donations and many people volunteered.
“She’s obviously a wonderfully amazing person and an inspiration,” Leigh’s friend and fellow Re/Max broker Sue “Pinky” Benson, who was one of many who shared the “sexy lineman” photo, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Even though she has the biggest excuse ever to stay in bed, she doesn’t do it, and she reminds us that we have to say, ‘We’re bigger than Irma,’ and that we have to rally.”
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