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on April 22, 2016 at 10:00 AM, updated April 22, 2016 at 10:53 AM
In fact, she made fans for life after what she did Wednesday.
Austin donated a kidney to a popular, longtime West Michigan area drag racer, Orville Teter, at the University of Michigan Hospitals in Ann Arbor. Austin’s husband, Mike Austin, is a veteran drag racer, too, and the two drivers started pitting next to each other about 10 years ago and struck up a friendship. Austin was quick to help out a friend when she found out that Teter was in need of a kidney.
Teter continues to recover at the hospital, while Austin returned home Thursday afternoon. She said the donor and recipient are doing fine.
“As a Christian, we all have assignments,” Austin said in a telephone interview Thursday evening. “When I found out that he was in kidney failure, I prayed about it and I knew in my heart that I wanted to be tested. There were so many people being tested.
“I wasn’t a relative, and I didn’t think it would happen, but all the cards were together and it worked out. Every time we went through more testing, it was just an accomplishment. I never thought for a moment, ‘Oh my gosh, I shouldn’t be doing this.’ It was such a good feeling.”
Teter, of Watervliet, is a fourth generation drag racer since his father raced, as do his son, Dustin, and granddaughter, Elizabeth Teter. Elizabeth competes in Martin’s Junior Dragster class.
Teter was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis in November of 2014. Teter eventually went on dialysis while his family members underwent tests for a possible transplant. It turned out that Austin was the perfect donor.
“When it came up that Orville needed a kidney, she just out of the blue said, ‘I want to go get tested,'” Mike Austin said. “There were about 12-to-14 of his family members who weren’t matches.
“They told Clara that their blood types were different, but they are compatible. Their tissue was like 100 percent. They could have come out of the same womb together. It was that close.”
Look for Mike Austin to be back racing his 1965 Chevy Nova in Martin’s Modified division this season. Teter also competes in Modified, although Mike Austin said he isn’t sure if Teter will be racing this year. However, expect Teter to make it out to the track to cheer on and help his granddaughter.
“He is a very friendly guy who would literally give you the shirt off his back,” Austin said. “He is so caring to everyone. If anyone broke their car at the race track, he would scurry all over the track to help them out to get parts. He has so many people who love him. He has a big family. I got to see how much they truly love him, and the other racers, too. I think Martin Dragway is very proud of him.”
Austin said she thought of her sister, Claudina Quinnios, after she got out of surgery Wednesday. Her sister died of cancer in 1994 and also suffered from kidney failure.
“I felt like I was doing it for her also,” Austin said. “She had multiple myeloma, and she fought it for four years. She was on dialysis, and I wanted to donate to her, but her doctor said it wouldn’t do any good because the cancer would take it right away.”
Martin’s 2016 season will begin April 30 when the track hosts its first Lane Bracket race.