Jonathan’s Story

November 4th 2010… Holy Cross Hospital  Ft. Lauderdale.
After 3 months of an undiagnosed illness I ended up in the E.R. and was given 24 hours to live. That night I began a very long journey, it all started with dialysis – something so foreign to me at the time, but little did I know it would control my life for the next 4 years.

For those of you who have not experienced dialysis, I will give you a short description of the life controlling effects it can have. Every night my wife spent 20 minutes ‘setting up the machine’. The machine I would manually plug myself into, lay a tube across my bedroom from the machine into the toilet, to where my bodily excess fluid would dispense through the night. Through 9 hours, each evening, this dialysis machine would add and dispense the fluid that my kidneys could no longer handle. Not only was this a daily commitment of 9 hours, but controlled the food I ate, my travel, my work life, and took complete reign of our social lives.
I am thankful science developed to allow dialysis, to give patients like myself, who without it would have died from renal failure. But a life dependent on dialysis, is no life to be envious of.

After 3 + years on dialysis the chances of me getting a transplant seemed slim.  With no knowledge of where I stood on the list, and no doctor to enlighten me of the situation, we visited the hospital every 3 months to make sure my body was still in “working order” if my name were to be called on the list. Amidst the frustration, and with some encouragement from our family’s pastor I decided to put a plea on Facebook – a long shot I was sure, but seemed like one of my only options. 

We went ahead with a young man from Los Angeles who through some experiences as a child, had felt called to donate a kidney. Many tests were done and Jim and I finally met up in March 2014.  I was not sure what my reaction would be to meeting somebody who was prepared to give me my new start of life. It wasn’t a material object, a car, a pint of blood, but a life saving organ this ‘stranger’ was prepared to give me. To this day, I am not sure just why I deserved this. When we met Jim, I was expecting a lot of tears, a flood of emotion, a perfect stranger offering me the gift of life. But to my surprise, upon meeting Jim, I felt like I already knew him, I complimented him on his Beatles t-shirt and we planned to meet up for a cup of coffee at the hospital after his testing.  After a few weeks of testing, we were given the disappointing news that due to Jim’s 24 hour blood pressure test he would not be able to go forward with donating his kidney.  It was a hard blow for all of us, but thanks to Jim’s persistence, and a deep feeling that we shared, that this certainly was meant to be – Jim approached his doctor for a retest. He passed, this was it, this was my kidney.

We settled on the date, August 25th, 2014 for surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, FL. Jim and his girlfriend Robin, joined myself, my wife, Barbara, and my daughter and son in law, Heather and Alex, at 6a.m. in the hospital lobby. I think we all felt a mix of excitement and fear, this had been a long journey for my family and certainly a leap of faith for Jim and Robin. 6 hours later we were both out of surgery, and I felt a second chance on life. 


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