Instead of giving Jewel cashier Myra de la Vega his Preferred Card, Evanston resident Dan Coyne gave her a kidney.
Now, he may lose his job because of his generosity.
On Tuesday, after receiving the Spirit of Evanston award, Coyne told a crowd of more than 200 that he was meeting with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel today to discuss his future employment with Chicago Public Schools. He said he wasn't sure if he'll still be employed due to violating the school's residency policy, which came to light last year.
Coyne, now 52, received national attention for his kidney donation, mainly because he didn't know de la Vega well, but enjoyed her personality enough to go out of his way so he could get rung up by her when shopping at Jewel.
Yet despite his gesture, Chicago Public Schools found a problem: The story revealed that Coyne has lived in Evanston for more than 27 years, violating CPS's controversial requirement that all employees must live in the city so they can contribute to the schools via tax.
For more than 18 years Coyne and his wife would make small talk with their favorite cashier, but when they noticed de la Vega wasn't her usual self -- she was looking ill -- they asked what was wrong.
It turned out de la Vega had renal failure and needed a kidney transplant, but none of her family was a match. The cashier told Coyne about her eight hour dialysis treatments, constant exhaustion and Coyne was moved.
While he didn't know much about the kidney donating process, Coyne offered to help.
It was a long shot -- 1 in 4,000 -- that Coyne's kidney would be a positive match, he said on Tuesday.
Fortunately for de la Vega, he was.
Once the story broke Coyne was quickly dubbed a hero, and his employer, Pershing East Magnet School in Chicago, declared March 23 "Dan Coyne Day" to honor his deed.
The social worker had made no attempts to hide his address to CPS, according to the Chicago Tribune. Then CPS Chief Ron Huberman sent Coyne a notice, stating he must move to Chicago by July 31 or face dismissal.
One year later and Coyne is still dealing with the consequences of his kidney donation.
Coyne was honored Tuesday by Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro, who presented the award to Coyne at the second annual Evanston Mash.
De la Vega, who was also present during the ceremony, called Coyne her "angel."
"I couldn't believe it, that there was somebody like him that was living on Earth that could do that," de la Vega said. "I think he is an angel living on Earth. You can say I'm corny but that's how I regard him."
Be sure to check back later for an update on Coyne's status.