Sisters of the highway: Trucker donating kidney to fellow hauler

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Updated Jul 10, 2019

Six weeks ago, West Virginia-based oil-field hand Elizabeth Sweet, who pulls a crude tanker for Contractor Transport, was winding down her day with a quick scroll through Facebook. Chancing upon the Real Women in Trucking page, a story caught her eye about Hawaiian truck driver Cheryl Lynn Ibana-Bean, who was suffering from Lupus and would need a kidney to remain alive. “Seemed  simple to me,” Sweet would later tell me. “My blood type makes me a universal donor.”

Elizabeth Sweet (left) with Cheryl Lynn Ibana-Bean | Photo by Les Willis, Godspeed ExpeditorsElizabeth Sweet (left) with Cheryl Lynn Ibana-Bean | Photo by Les Willis, Godspeed Expeditors

Doesn’t get too much more short and, well, sweet than that. (Sorry. It was right there.)

Fast forward to June 25 and a trip sponsored by Les Willis of Godspeed Expediters, LLC. Ms. Sweet was flown out to the Nazih Zuhdi Organ Transplant Institute in Oklahoma City to undergo three days worth of bloodwork, ultrasounds and multiple evaluations by a team of physicians. Turns out she’s a perfect match, and the surgery is scheduled to take place  September 9, subject to health conditions.

Willis, who drove down to Oklahoma City from his home in the remote thickets of Arkansas, compared meeting Elizabeth Sweet and Cheryl Lynn Ibana-Bean to meeting “medal of honor recipients.”

Ibana-Bean, for her part, had just flown in from Hawaii. She’s the 2018 recipient of RWIT’s “Queen of the Road” award for her work, among other things, in forming the Ladies of Hawaii Truckin’ Group. It’s dedicated to promoting camaraderie among female truckers in Hawaii, among other things. She describes it as a “unique nonprofit organization with a mission to perpetuate a culture of inspiration, self-reliance and value to every woman.” Drivers who wish to donate toward Ibana-Bean’s transplant costs may do so at this link.

An online auction is also being planned for later this month to help defray medical costs for team Sweet and Bean. Several entertainers, well-known to regular readers of this blog I would wager, will be on hand.

More from Paul Marhoefer’s “Faces of the Road” series.