“Love thy neighbor”: It’s one of the Ten Commandments and a motto many of us strive to live by. However, not many people take the statement quite as seriously as Frank Dewhurst, who just became the oldest living kidney donor in the United States.
Dewhurst, 84, lives a few houses down from Linda Nall. He had noticed his neighbor’s health declining as she became less sociable and struggled to enter and exit her vehicle. When Nall placed a sign in her yard requesting a kidney donation, Dewhurst knew it was time to take action.
“The sign read ‘I am type O and I need a kidney transplant. Please help me,'” Dewhurst told KPRC-TV.
Nall was diagnosed with lupus in 1986. In 2001, the autoimmune disease started to impact the health of her kidneys. Her situation was growing more dire when she was placed on dialysis.
For over a year and a half, Nall had been searching for a donor. She wore t-shirts detailing her need and placed a sign on her husband’s car. When she posted another large sign in her front yard, she worried that it was an “eyesore.”
So when Dewhurst knocked on her door, Nall thought the head of the homeowner’s association was demanding she remove the sign. She never expected her neighbor to deliver a life-changing message instead.
“I’m O positive. I’m here to offer you my kidney,” Dewhurst told her.
Upon hearing the good news, Nall was overwhelmed with emotion.
“When he told me he wanted to give me his kidney, I was shocked. It’s an incredible thing he has done for me and I am so grateful,” she said.
Only one obstacle stood in Dewhurst’s way: his age. After testing, however, doctors informed him that the transplant was possible. Dr. Hassan Ibrahim, chief of kidney diseases at Houston Methodist Hospital, is constantly assuring patients that if a patient is healthy, age is not an issue when determining who can donate.
“Hopefully, this donation can help correct the misconception — as long as you’re healthy, don’t deprive yourself of the chance to save someone’s life because of your age,” Ibrahim said to the Houston Chronicle.
“Besides Mr. Dewhurst, we have taken kidneys from an 80-year old, a 79-year old and other donors in their late 60s and early 70s,” Ibrahim told KPRC-TV. “They receive a full workup to make sure they are physically strong enough to donate. If everything checks out, there is no reason to keep them from saving someone’s life.”
Dewhurst, who leads a healthy and active lifestyle, was approved to make the donation.
“After undergoing a number of tests I was cleared to donate and very happy to do so,” Dewhurst said.
The transplant occurred at Houston Methodist Hospital, making Dewhurst the oldest living kidney donor in the United States. After just 48 hours, Dewhurst returned to his everyday activities as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He also considers his act of kindness “no big deal.”
“I’m healthy and had what she needed, a functioning kidney. She wasn’t getting any better without one,” Dewhurst told the Houston Chronicle.
Nall is excited to take advantage of the renewed chance at life her neighbor has gifted her.
“I can’t wait to spend more time with family and friends and just socialize more,” Nall said to KPRC-TV. “I have lived a long time not being able to eat what I want to eat and do what I want to do. I am going to make the most of Frank’s generous gift and live life to the fullest.”
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