Townsend offered kidney to save close friend's life

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— Vivian Pommier didn't plan to be in Steamboat Springs earlier this week.

She's learned to not bank on the future trips to Colorado included.

After facing kidney failure last year, she now takes one day at a time.

The Washington, D.C., woman was in town to help her 15-year-old son, Jordan, move into the dorms at Lowell Whiteman School. And she came to see an old friend.

Norman Townsend, a public defender in Steamboat, met Pommier in 1974 while he attended law school in Washington.

The two became friends before Townsend eventually moved to Georgia, where he taught law, and then he moved to Steamboat.

Pommier stayed in Washington, D.C., and built a successful travel agency.

They ran into each other in 1986 while Pommier was staying in Steamboat on a ski trip.

She and Townsend made an effort to stay in touch after their encounter, keeping each other abreast of changing relationships, new opportunities and growing children.

When Pommier's kidneys began deteriorating and a transplant became necessary, she hesitantly looked to her friend for help.

Townsend offered to donate one of his kidneys. That offer began months of testing that led to a transplant last March and a seven-week hospital stay for Pommier.

Her body has rejected the transplanted kidney several times, and recovery has been long, but she looks forward to getting back to where she once was, she said.

Pommier was an active skier, swimmer and runner before her health began to falter.

She never anticipated such a long road to recovery, she said. If faced with the decision to give one of his kidneys to his friend all over again, Townsend admitted he "would do it in a heartbeat."

"It was not much of a sacrifice in return for Vivian's health," he said.

Pommier understands life after the transplant may be littered with many challenges, but she has every intention of finding some normalcy in her day-to-day activities, she said.

Part of finding that normalcy was accompanying her son to Steamboat.

Although she headed back Wednesday to her career and the reality of more blood tests, she intends to return.

Jordan, who participates in the competitive ski program at Lowell Whiteman, has many competitions this winter, and mom wants to be there.

Pommier has decided not to set a date, but that doesn't mean she won't be coming back.

"You really cannot make any plans," she said. "But I've got his race schedule, and I'm going to be there."

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