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Donnie Campbell and Ronny Golden – Kidney Transplant Success Story

Strangers united by an incredible gift

Donnie Campbell and Ronny Golden have a lot more in common than rhyming first names. Both are hardworking men in their 50s with supportive families. Both are drawn to the hum of a well-oiled engine: Donnie to cars, Ronny to motorcycles. And both considered themselves relatively healthy before renal failure changed their lives.

Donnie Campbell and Ronny Golden Donnie Campbell (left and Ronny Golden (right) received kidneys from
the same doner. "That family lost someone, but they
blessed two people," Donnie says.

Ronny’s kidneys were damaged by an autoimmune disease. For Donnie, it was diabetes and high blood pressure.

Spending hours each week hooked up to blood-filtering dialysis machines became a routine part of life as each man worked and waited — Donnie in Tyler, Texas, Ronny in Elm Grove, Louisiana — hoping for a new kidney.

“It was a commitment, three days a week, four to five hours each time,” says Donnie, who was on dialysis for 20 months. “But it gives you life so you have time to wait for a kidney.”

Besides loss of energy, dialysis required other sacrifices. Donnie had less energy to spend with his grandson. Ronny had to back off riding motorcycles.

“It wears on you,” Ronny says of his 3½ years of dialysis. “But as one doc told me, ‘Dialysis is only a bridge. On the other side is either a kidney or death.’?”

The bridge to new life

Ronny Ronnie Golden and his wife, Sharon, are
grateful to the donor's family for the gift
that saved two lives.

On Easter Sunday, Ronny and Donnie each received a call from Methodist Dallas. Both were matched to receive a new kidney from the same donor and headed to Dallas for surgery the next day.

“Everyone at Methodist was so happy,” Ronny’s wife, Sharon, recalls. “When we heard it was a match, everyone was crying and hugging.”

“Ronny has our donor’s right kidney, and I have the left one,” Donnie says. “But for us, they are both the right one.”

The former strangers — now linked by a unique bond — started planning annual get-togethers. As they regain their health, they remain thankful for the excellent care they received at Methodist Dallas — and to their donor’s family.

“That family lost someone, but they blessed two people,” Donnie says. “They blessed two families.”

From the winter 2014 issue of Shine magazine.