Texas husband and father Robert Hamlin had been living with kidney disease for years.
The diagnosis was all-consuming, as Hamlin spent nine hours each day, every day, on dialysis to remove the toxins from his body.
With his kidneys functioning at just four percent, Hamlin was placed on an organ transplant waiting list — along with the slew of other Americans who are waiting, too.
The process of finding a precise donor match can be time-consuming and fraught with uncertainty, a process that Hamlin’s foster nephew, Donald Kennedy, knows all too well.
Last Christmas, as the Hamlin family gathered together, Kennedy’s smiling face was among them.
Kennedy had grown up in foster care, shifting from home to home with his life’s belongings in a black plastic trash bag.
But when Kennedy landed in the Hamlin family’s home, he was able to unpack that trash bag for good. With this foster family, Hamlin finally had a sense of acceptance, belonging and a much-needed place to call home.
“They welcomed me with open arms, and they welcomed me as part of the family,” Kennedy told KXXV-TV.
When Kennedy learned that his foster uncle needed a kidney, he didn’t hesitate to try and help.
“When I was told that he needed a kidney, I was like OK let me do some research,” Kennedy said.
He dove headfirst into the donor match process, which Kennedy said was complicated and full of tests. But in the end, Kennedy’s kidney was deemed a perfect match for Hamlin.
“I’m so ready for this,” Hamlin wrote on his HelpHopeLive donation page. “Now on to the next chapter.”
On Nov. 14, Kennedy officially donated his kidney to his uncle.
Hamlin is deeply moved by the “amazing young man” who scarcely batted an eye at the thought of losing a kidney in order that someone else might have a higher quality of life.
Now that the surgery is complete, both men are beginning to recover. Everyone is waiting to see how Hamlin’s body responds to the new organ.
Last Christmas, Hamlin and his family weren’t sure how many more holiday seasons they’d all have together. But thanks to Kennedy’s selfless generosity, the entire family can look forward to many more years of celebrating together.
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