Florida Couple Gets Life-Saving News While on Disney World Vacation

Disney World Vacation Kidney
Credit: Heather Luter Emanuel Facebook

For many families that head to the Sunshine State for a vacation at Walt Disney World Resort, their trip is a memorable one. Families can save for months or years to take that magical Disney vacation. However, for those who live close to Disney and love to visit the Parks whenever they can, the trips may start to blend after a while. However, for one Annual Passholding couple, their most recent holiday trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth turned into one they truly will never forget.

Hollywood Studios

Credit: Disney

James Emanuel and his wife, Heather, always try to head to Walt Disney World during the holiday season, and they wanted to keep that tradition alive, despite James’ failing health. James was suffering from end-stage renal failure and was waiting for a match, so he could receive a much-needed kidney transplant. The Disney lovers headed down from their home in Tampa to enjoy the Christmas season at one of their favorite places.

Little did they know that everything would soon change.

Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

Credit: Disney

The couple visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios and then headed back to their room. Then, at 4 a.m., Heather received a call they had been waiting for. A kidney had been found for James, and he needed to get to the hospital, so he could receive his transplant. Heather spoke to FOX35 Orlando about the life-changing call.

Heather told FOX 35 she has never seen James wake up so quickly!

“He was shocked and I cried,” she said. “We packed all our stuff in about 5 minutes.” 

The couple headed to Tampa General Hospital where James underwent a successful transplant surgery. 

Disney World man kidney

Credit: Heather Luter Emanuel

Heather also shared the special story on a Disney World Annual Passholders Facebook page, writing:

***Update- we are home!!!!! You all have no idea how amazed I am for such an overwhelming amount of support. If i could I would thank each and every one of you. I will keep updates on the progress and hopefully in about 6 months we can go back to Disney!! Than you all so much!!!!

So i really wanted to share our best Disney story. This past Friday we had our annual weekend Christmas trip. We enjoyed hollywood studios first then off to All Star Music. At 4am we received the long awaited phone call that they had a kidney donor match for my husband James Emanuel . We packed up in about 10 minutes and high tailed it to Tampa General Hospital. Talk about a magical trip. The picture is us less than 24 hours before the new kidney. We get to go home tomorrow and can’t wait to get back to Disney. Merry Christmas!!!!
James Emanuel

Credit: Heather Luter Emanuel

According to Heather, James is back home and recovering from a successful transplant. The two told FOX35 that they are looking forward to booking their next Disney World vacation.

Please join us in wishing James a speedy recovery!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!