Kidney Match for Local Man's Second Transplant Called a Miracle - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/28/04

Kidney Match for Local Man's Second Transplant Called a Miracle

David Tootle David Tootle
Rhonda Smith Rhonda Smith

You'd probably donate an organ to save someone in your family or a friend. The case in point is in Bulloch County, where one woman is giving a kidney to save her Sunday school teacher. It's not often that those who are willing medically match up with the people they want to help, but both donor and recipient say this was meant to be.

It will be at least a month before David Tootle comes back to work. A bout with pneumonia last year left the land appraiser in need of a second kidney transplant. "I had in the back of my mind this would happen eventually," he said. "I knew 17 years is a pretty long while."

When they heard of David's need, dozens of people from the community and his church came forward for the screening to see if they could donate. The best match came from the Sunday school class he teaches.

Rhonda Smith has known David since she worked with his wife years ago. "The surgeon told us yesterday we're not just a borderline match, but a very very good match, so it's just a miracle for a lot of people," she said.

While the Smiths and Tootles have been close friends, they've never been closer. "You would expect that from somebody like a brother, sister, mother, father," said David. "But somebody's not blood related, that's even more special."

"He said if at any point you decide you won't do this or can't do this, we'll still love you, but that's never been an issue," said Rhonda.

"I have people walk up I don't even know and say they're praying for us," said David. "I always tell them put Rhonda first."

With Rhonda's sacrifice, David says a lifetime of thank you's will never be enough. With the surgery on Tuesday, he says he looks forward to being asleep through election day.

Friends are hosting a benefit BBQ supper and gospel concert next Saturday, November 5, starting at 4pm at the Bulloch Academy Stadium in Statesboro. Tickets are available at the Bulloch County Tax Assessors Office, or call 764.0158 or 486.2102.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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