StoryCorps Chicago: ‘I Wish I Could Take The Pain Away’

Billie Riepma (left) and Laurie Diagne
Billie Riepma (left) and Laurie Diagne grew close after Billie’s son died and Laurie received his lungs. Last year, Laurie drove 10.5 hours to surprise Billie at her graduation. Courtesy of Billie Riepma
Billie Riepma (left) and Laurie Diagne
Billie Riepma (left) and Laurie Diagne grew close after Billie’s son died and Laurie received his lungs. Last year, Laurie drove 10.5 hours to surprise Billie at her graduation. Courtesy of Billie Riepma

StoryCorps Chicago: ‘I Wish I Could Take The Pain Away’

When Laurie Diagne was in her twenties, she was diagnosed with a chronic lung disease. A decade later, in desperate need of new lungs, Laurie entered the hospital and waited. Months passed, until a call came through that a 23-year-old from Arkansas had died and Laurie would receive his lungs.

Dillon Lockhart
Billie Riepma’s son, Dillon Lockhart. Courtesy of Billie Riepma

Once she recovered from the surgery, Laurie wrote a condolence note to the young man’s family, and his mother responded. Ever since then, Billie Riepma and Laurie have formed a unique relationship. As part of our StoryCorps series, Laurie talked with Billie about the loss of Billie’s son Dillon in 2015.

Bill Healy produces StoryCorps Chicago for WBEZ and teaches journalism at Northwestern University. Follow him @chicagoan.