When Kenneth Walker needed a kidney transplant, he reached out to everyone he knew in hopes of finding one. Ultimately, he got his kidney from a most unlikely source: A high school classmate he’d barely spoken to in the past 50 years.
Walker graduated from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. in 1969. He has since lost touch with most of his former classmates, at least until he was staring the grim reaper in the face.
While working in South Africa, Walker fell ill but was misdiagnosed and given the wrong treatment. When he got home to Washington 18 months ago, he found out that time was running out if he didn’t get a new kidney.
Unfortunately, Walker was far down on the transplant list. In November, Walker sent a mass email to members of his high school class telling of them of his situation. He didn’t expect anything to come of it, but at least wanted to raise awarness about live organ donations.
“I want to bring awareness to kidney disease and living donation,” wrote Walker. “I am hopeful my efforts will help me receive a kidney sooner and encourage others to consider helping the many people on the wait list.”
Within 15 minutes, Walker received a response from Charlie Ball, a former classmate he barely remembers. Ball told Walker he would go to the hospital the next morning to get tested and donate his kidney if everything check out.
Despite being over 60, doctors deemed Ball to be in good enough physical condition to be a live donor. Walker admits to initially being suspicious that Ball replied so quickly. But Ball’s family says he’s always cared about helping the others.
“We didn’t know sh*t about each other,” Ball said jokingly about the fact that the two haven’t kept in touch and only “vaguely” remember one another from high school.
But none of that mattered. Ball willingly donated his kidney to Walker. The surgery went as planned and both men should be out of the hospital and on the road to recovery within the next week.
“I’m deeply grateful,” says Walker. “Some example of humanity.”