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‘Anne, you saved my life’: How Anne Trujillo, Denver7 helped a woman get a life-saving kidney transplant

Back in 2015, a Denver7 viewer credited Anne and the station for saving her life.
Posted: 2:20 PM, Nov 15, 2023
Updated: 2023-11-15 16:20:38-05

As Denver7 anchor Anne Trujillo prepares to sign off from nearly four decades on the air, we’re looking back at seminal moments from her career.

In one of those moments, a Denver7 viewer credits Anne and the station for saving her life.

Arlene Faybik was in need of a kidney transplant. She was one of many Coloradans on a long waitlist for organ donation.

Her husband turned to putting a sign on the back of the family’s car. The desperate measure – a trend that continues to this day – made its way to Anne on social media.

“Anne thought it was a great story and gave the story to [Jaclyn Allen],” Arlene said in an interview in the weeks before Anne’s farewell. “Lori [Ruth] saw the story, and she decided, ‘I’m going to give that woman a kidney.”

“Going on nine years in August, and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for [Jaclyn] and Anne Trujillo.”

Let’s revisit the story through Denver7’s coverage.

‘Am I going to be here in the morning?’

This all started in 2013, when Arlene’s kidneys started to fail. For two years, she did dialysis seven days a week.

A machine was keeping her alive.

“I go to sleep at night. I hook up to the machine and say to myself, ‘Am I going to be here in the morning?’” Arlene said.

She was one of more than 1,900 Coloradans on the waitlist. Denver7’s investigation at the time found kidneys were the organs with the longest wait times.

“It’s hard to see someone you love in pain,” Arlene’s husband, Michael, told Denver7.

The Faybik’s had seen a viral story about a Colorado man who turned his truck into a billboard for his wife who was in need of a kidney. They hoped for the same miracle for Arlene.

'Help save a life': The car signage that prompted a Denver7 story and a life-changing organ donation

‘I didn’t know you could just jump in’

We spoke with Arlene again when she found the gift she didn’t know she’d ever receive: A so-called angel donor – a living stranger donating an organ.

That angel was Lori Ruth, who saw Denver7’s original story on Arlene and decided to step in. After weeks of testing, she was given the green light to give Arlene a kidney.

“I wanted her to know I was out there,” Ruth told Denver7 then. “I wanted her to know that there was hope.”

“I didn't know you could just jump in [and donate an organ].”

'I didn't know you could just jump in': The woman who became an 'angel' kidney donor after Denver7 story

‘It’s a whole new life’

The whole time Arlene and Lori were together at the University of Colorado Hospital, they were holding hands and hugging as if they were connected.

Now, they are.

We visited with the two of them after a successful surgery back in 2015, four months after our original reporting on Arlene’s situation.

“I’m doing a bucket list,” Arlene said, planning her future of travel with family, holidays together and the birth of her first granddaughter.

“It’s a whole new life for me, and you gave it to me,” Arlene told Lori in the hospital.

'A whole new life for me': Denver7 coverage helped lead to successful kidney transplant in 2015