Butler County elections director gets new kidney with help from friend group

One Hamilton woman's friends came together to help her get a life-saving gift. Diane Noonan needed a kidney – and got one – with the help of her best gal pals. WCPO-TV
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One Hamilton woman's friends came together to help her get a life-saving gift. Diane Noonan needed a kidney – and got one – with the help of her best gal pals. WCPO-TV

One Hamilton woman’s friends came together to help her get a life-saving gift. Diane Noonan needed a kidney – and got one – with the help of her best gal pals.

The women have a history of giving: WCPO profiled them last year after they gave a big tip to a pizza delivery driver during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their latest good deed saved the life of one of their own.

“My kidney is called Jilly Bean ‘cause her name is Jilly,” Noonan said.

She gets texts from her friends all the time asking, “How’s Jilly?” or “Are you and Jilly ready to go home?”

“I don’t think of myself as somebody special for doing this. I just wanted to help somebody and that’s what I did,” kidney donor Jill Grove said.

Grove is the original owner of Jilly Bean, whom friends turned into a cartoon character. She said her decision to share with Noonan, the director of the Butler County Board of Elections, was an easy one.

Diane Noonan kidney character
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Diane Noonan kidney character

“Our families have known each other for many, many years,” Grove said.

Noonan’s need was made known and spread across social media via a Facebook page called Diane Noonan Needs a Kidney. She was on dialysis three days a week in addition to working her full-time job.

So, doing what good friends do, they brainstormed a bunch of ways to get the word out – from bracelets, to decals to laminated flyers.

Potential donors got tested, including Grove. Noonan found her kidney donor.

Grove recovered from surgery, and Noonan’s doing great. This was her last week of follow-up testing at UC Health after her successful transplant.

“How do you ever say ‘thank you’ to someone like that?” Noonan said regarding her transplant from Grove. “You can’t”

No words perhaps, but in this case, actions count. Living is the thank you.