Although Craig insists his donation wasn't a big deal, James and his wife Laura share their thoughts on the life-changing impact of living kidney donation.
James and his transplant surgeon Dr. Amer Rajab talk about the benefits James experienced because of his living donor kidney transplant.
Craig and his transplant surgeon Dr. Ronald Pelletier discuss the ever-growing need for living kidney donors like Craig.
James and Craig maintained their sense of humor throughout the entire process, and even nicknamed the transplanted kidney "Kenny."
James and Laura share how they learned that James had a serious health issue and discovered the kidney disease that would change their lives.

Living Donor Kidney Transplant

James and Craig have a connection that even the closest of friends don't often have. It all started when James, a husband and father from Amanda, Ohio, was denied life insurance because one of the test results from his required physical came back abnormal.

James went to his family physician, who referred him to a specialist. The specialist determined that James had chronic kidney disease. At the time, James still had 70 percent kidney function and was told he wouldn't need dialysis or a kidney transplant for 10-20 years. So James started taking medication, altered his diet and started exercising to hopefully prolong the time before he would need a transplant. He also enjoyed spending time with his family, regularly attended church and spent time with his friend Craig.

James' Kidneys Were Shutting Down

"My kidneys were failing, and there was nothing the doctors could do."

Only five years later, James started suffering fatigue and swelling in his legs. He made an appointment with his nephrologist, who had been monitoring James' diminishing kidney function. Tests revealed that James' kidney function had dropped to only 10 percent. The doctor told James that he needed to start dialysis or get a kidney transplant. He then immediately referred James to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, because it has the largest, most experienced transplant program in the state of Ohio—as well as one of the largest, most experienced programs in the country.

After James' transplant eligibility was confirmed, he learned he had two options: he could start dialysis until a deceased kidney donor could be found, which could take many years, or he could start looking for a living kidney donor. James was feeling overwhelmed by the thought of finding a living kidney donor when his church made an announcement on his behalf.

Craig Stepped Forward to Be a Living Kidney Donor

"As it turns out, the friend I saw every Sunday ended up being a perfect match."

After hearing the announcement at church, James' friend Craig decided to get tested to see if he was a match to be a living kidney donor for James. When the results came back, Craig was shocked to find out that he and James had the same remarkable organ compatibility that you would find in blood brothers. After talking it over with his family, Craig called James to tell him that he would be his donor.

After a comprehensive pre-transplant orientation process at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, James and Craig underwent kidney transplant surgery. Dr. Ronald Pelletier removed Craig's kidney and Dr. Amer Rajab transplanted the healthy organ into James' body. After several hours, the surgeons came out to tell the families that both surgeries were successful. James and Craig each recovered without complications.

Today, James is Healthy…and Grateful

"I'm really blessed that I got this opportunity."

Today, James doesn't worry about being on dialysis for the rest of his life. He's too busy spending time with his wife Laura and playing with their two young daughters. James is thankful for his friend Craig's selfless decision to become a living kidney donor. Though many people ask Craig why he did it, he doesn't see what all the fuss is about. "He needed a kidney, and I was able to provide it."

James is also an advocate for living donor kidney transplantation. James hopes that sharing his story will help others suffering with chronic kidney disease—and encourages everyone to get tested to become a living kidney donor.


  • "I'm so blessed. My friend Craig gave me the ultimate gift."

Meet James and Craig's Care Team


Amer Rajab, MD, PhD

Transplant Surgeon

Dr. Rajab was James' transplant surgeon at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center; he transplanted Craig's healthy donor kidney into James' body. James and Craig can't say enough good things about Dr. Rajab and the rest of the staff on the transplant floor. Dr. Rajab is a leader in patient care and research. He performed Ohio State's first pancreatic islet cell transplant in 2011.

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Ronald Pelletier, MD

Transplant Surgeon

Dr. Pelletier was Craig’s transplant surgeon at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center; he removed Craig’s healthy donor kidney so it could be given to James. Craig and James can’t say enough good things about Dr. Pelletier and the rest of the staff on the transplant floor. The success rate of kidney transplants at Ohio State is very impressive because of excellent surgeons like Dr. Pelletier.

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Bonnie Warrens

Transplant Coordinator

Bonnie was James and Craig's transplant coordinator and was there to answer all of their questions throughout the process.

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