A Rare Match: Life after a transplant - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

A Rare Match: Life after a transplant


The lives of two strangers in our area are forever changed after their rare blood type brought them together.

A Vietnam Veteran in Pooler donated his kidney to an Effingham County Sheriff's deputy with kidney disease. They're O-negative blood, something only 7 percent of Americans share.

They both doing well and are healthy six months after surgery. But I couldn't help but wonder, what happens after someone gives you one of their organs? Do you suddenly become best friends? Send each other Christmas cards? Awkwardly go your separate ways? So, I asked them.

"Probably a lot of people would think that you're going to be hanging around each other all the time and all that, but I look at it differently, you know. He don't owe me nothing,” said kidney donor Charlie Hanson.

It's not the answer I was expecting, either, but that's because Hanson is humble and the last thing he'd want is for Deputy Ivey Williamson to feel obligated to be friends with him.

But the deputy doesn't see it that way at all. Being friends with the man who saved his life is an honor.

"I send him a text every now and then, a phone call. He'll text me and call me,” said Deputy Williamson, kidney recipient.

He even invited Hanson and his wife to the Sheriff's Office Christmas party.

"There's not much a person can do more than what Charlie did for me, and he'll always be my hero,” said Williamson.

And a lot of people agree. Since last year, many of you have been moved by their story.

"I've got stacks of letters and stuff from people I don't even know,” said Hanson.

Letters thanking him, telling him he's a good person and a hero. But Hanson told WTOC he didn't do it for the recognition.

“So you wouldn't call yourself a hero?” Hanson was asked.

“No. A hero? No. Those guys right out there in that uniform are heroes. I just had a surgery done,” said Hanson.

Deputy Williamson is back at work now, and the Effingham County Sheriff says never once did he complain or call-out sick since the surgery.

"And that's admirable. A lot of folks would just lay down and say the heck with it and not worry about it, but he didn't do that,” said Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie.

As for Hanson, he's still not a fan of all the attention, but he hopes his actions will at least inspire others to do the same.

Well, I've heard a lot of things from people who are scared to do that, who think they're losing something -- well you are losing something, but look what you're gaining. My gosh, I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world,” said Hanson.

If you're interested in being a donor, click here.

Copyright 2016 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly