KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WDAF) — The surprise of a lifetime was caught on camera recently at the University of Kansas Health System.
Alex Brown, who previously worked at WDAF-TV in Kansas City, is getting an incredible gift from a co-worker. Brown needs a new kidney and had been searching far and wide for a living donor. Turns out his match was in the next cubicle.
He was taking medication for a chronic digestive issue when he learned that the medication had damaged his kidneys beyond repair. At age 33, he learned he’d need a kidney transplant.
“That’s when they told me though I needed a living kidney donor, which was a surprise at the time,” Brown recalled.
He and his family spent more than a year searching for a match, with no firm timeframe for when he’d have to turn to dialysis.
“The future had been pretty murky for a while, and it’s been a hard thing to live under,” Brown explained.
Potential candidates who volunteered were rejected. During his search, Brown started working full-time in the University of Kansas Health System’s Media Relations Department. Co-worker Logan Blankenship decided to get tested without telling Brown. The tests took place over a period of two days this fall.
“I didn’t want to see that look on his face like I saw that day when he found out his friend couldn’t do it,” Blankenship explained.
Working for the hospital, Blankenship had produced stories on transplants before, but there was one thing even the doctors who perform them had never seen.
“We’ve done all these stories with living transplants, and we’ve never received that surprise moment,” Blankenship said.
That moment when the recipient found out he or she was getting an organ donation. So the team called a production meeting in the broadcast studio and invited Brown’s family.
“They didn’t even know because they were just told Alex is going to get this award,” Brown said.
Then Blankenship delivered the news with someone recording in the control room.
“You guys have put yourselves out there to make his big ask, and I’m glad to say that we have an answer for that. I’m your match man. I’m your match,” Blankenship exclaimed in the video.
“Daddy got a kidney,” Brown’s wife Jenna explained to his daughter 5.
“Just in that moment, to be able to tell him and be there at the point of relief was just so cool,” Blankenship said Tuesday recounting the surprise.
“I obviously was in super shock when it happened. It settles in a few minutes later that, wow, somebody would step forward and do this for me, and it’s the guy that sits five feet away from me,” Brown said.
The University of Kansas Health System aired the surprise on its Morning Medical Update Friday, giving both men the chance to talk about a gift you can never repay.
“That would be my message. If you know someone who needs a living organ and you have the chance to go get tested, make that call,” Brown said.
Doctors say the pain and recovery are worse for the donor than the recipient, which will take several weeks. It’s a tremendous sacrifice, but you can live just fine with just one kidney.
Blankenship has comforted his own family explaining should he ever require a transplant himself as a donor, he automatically moves to the top of the list.
The procedure is likely to take place in the spring of 2023.