Written by Jonathan Nunn
In early 2006 my sister’s father in law went into kidney failure. He had diabetes most of his adult life and had struggled keeping his blood sugar in line. He immediately went on dialysis and got the transplant list. My sister called and told us the news and asked us to pray for this man. In May of 2006 I went with my brother in law and some other men and helped this man who had been living on and running a Boy Scout camp in Amarillo for years get the camp ready for the upcoming summer season. The normal everyday tasks were too much for him in his medical condition. Dialysis a couple times a week took the color right out of his skin. His energy level was almost nonexistent. I worked alongside this good man for a few days and watched him wish he could do more and watched the anguish in his face that his body had failed him and he could no longer do what he loved. I came home and went on with my life.
A few weeks later I woke up one morning with the strongest spiritual prompting that I needed to be this man’s donor. I spoke with my wife about it and she said what any sane wife would say “you’re an idiot”. You don’t donate body parts when you are still alive. We went on with our lives once again. The prompting had its own plan and kept coming back. I finally started looking into the risks associated with living donation. I started of course online with none other than our best friend Mr. Google. Website after website, page after page, good, bad, better, worse. I then went to my MD and to my Urologist. I also spoke with a friend of mine who installs pace makers and deals with transplant patients all the time. They all told me the risks and I learned that some people are both with only one kidney and live their whole life and never know it. There is very little risk with living with one kidney.
After I had completed my due diligence, I contacted this humble man and told him of my spiritual prompting and of the research I had done on my end. He turned me down flat. I told him to think about it and I would get back with him. I called him back a few days later. He told me that I was too young and I had a young family and he didn’t want to do anything to risk my health. He didn’t want something to happen and him feel responsible. I told him that my spiritual prompting would not go away and that someone was trying to tell me something. It took me a few more conversations for him to even start to be tested to see if I was a match.
The first thing they checked was blood type matching. We were an exact match O Negative. Then we had to be in the same city to see how our blood meshed together. Perfect again. Then they do a HLA tissue type matching. We matched 4 out of 6. They said his family could possibly be less of a match. They told him they would give him a 2 of 6 match on a cadaver kidney and getting a 4 of 6 on a living donor is a rare occurrence. I am also a religious man and was on 29 years old and had never smoked a cigarette, drank a beer, done drugs, or done anything to harm my body. I rarely drink soda, exercise all the time and was the picture perfect 29 year old male.
In January of 2007 we both went under the knife. I woke and this man was walking down the hospital hallway to my room to see me and thank me. His coloring was already coming back. He looked better the day after surgery than he had looked in a long while. He felt better that day than he had felt in months. What a great opportunity to enrich someone’s life and enhance his quality of life and possibly extend his life. I would not change a thing. I am sure the only thing my recipient would change is his initial response getting that kidney in him sooner. I have had no side effects at all and honestly can’t even tell I only have one kidney. I take no medications as a result of this surgery and my blood tests are all as normal as before. The Lord has blessed me and my family tremendously through this self less charitable act and I know I did the right thing.
Special Thanks to Marina Gallagher