Life-Saving Friend

Minot, ND - An area man has a new lease on life thanks to the selfless generosity of a friend - and strangers far away.
Jim Olson has the story with a very happy ending.

Clint Smith is on the job - a plumber making house calls all over the area

(Clint Smith, Kidney Transplant Recipient) "There is some things that take a lot of energy."

And energy is something Clint nearly ran out over the past 18 months

(Clint Smith, Kidney Transplant Recipient) "Tired, couldn't stay awake - couldn't wait to go to bed..."

He was tired because his kidneys were failing - so on June 29th, 2016, he went on dialysis

(Clint Smith, Kidney Transplant Recipient) "It was rough - kind of the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
(Brenda Smith, Clint's Mother)  "I watched him decline...his color..."

Clint's mom Brenda spread the word that he needed a kidney transplant - hoping someone might donate to him.

(Brenda Smith, Clint's Mother) "We tried to struggle through day by day..."

Turns out the answer to her prayers was right there in the orthodontist's office where she's worked for decades.

(Brenda Smith, Clint's Mother) "Monica..."

A 24-year colleague and friend.

(Monica Meyer, Kidney Donor)  "When I heard he was going to need a kidney transplant I just immediately said I would go get tested."
(Brenda Smith, Clint's Mother)  "Hers didn't match..."
(Monica Meyer, Kidney Donor)  "I was pretty disappointed."

Disappointed. But not ready to give up. Instead, Monica and Brenda researched the Paired Exchange Program - where a donor could help a good match far off, and someone on that end could donate to Clint. Monica signed up.

(Brenda Smith, Clint's Mother) "She was on that in a heartbeat."

And, a paired match was found - but the process is a bit fragile - anyone can back out at any time and other problems can develop. And Clint's match fell through

(Brenda Smith, Clint's Mother)  "That was a letdown because we were so pumped."
(Clint Smith, Kidney Transplant Recipient)  "It was kind of heartbreaking."

That happened twice. Until a paired match was found in Michigan in April this year - and surgery was set for June at Sanford in Bismarck. June 29th. One year to the day after Clint's dialysis - and gradual decline - had begun.

(Brenda Smith, Clint's Mother) "Before he had gone in his color was just not good and he was pink - I said you're pink again!"
(Clint Smith, Kidney Transplant Recipient)  "That day was great"
(Monica Meyer, Kidney Donor)  "It was a long time coming but when we finally got the surgery scheduled. When it finally went through it was the best moment was great."

And now, five months later, Clint is back on the job

(Clint Smith, Kidney Transplant Recipient) "Every day it gets better - building up my strength I guess - it's all I can ask for."

And the Smiths know who helped make it possible.

(Brenda Smith, Clint's Mother)  "Monica? She was true to the end - a lot of people wouldn't be able to do that."
(Clint Smith, Kidney Transplant Recipient)  "I owe her my life."

(hug - good to see you...)
Jim Olson, KX News.

There are thousands of people waiting for kidney donations in the US.
If you're interested in perhaps becoming a donor, it's easy to get tested.
Click here to get to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

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