NewsKern's Kindness


Lifelong friendship formed through organ donation

"What do you say? [They] don’t make a hallmark card that says, 'Thank you for the kidney.'"
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Posted at 6:17 AM, May 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-16 09:17:08-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Joseph Macy has been battling polycystic kidney disease since he was 21 years old.

"It’s everything. [I] was doing dialysis from home five to six times a week. It’s your entire life. [It's] constant pills every time you eat. Four blood pressure medications, sometimes five. Constant lab work. It's going to the clinic. You get sick all the time. You're in and out of the hospital. I've had so many staph infections, I lost count," said Joseph.

Rudolf van Heerden’s wife taught at the same school as Joseph’s mom. She overheard a conversation about Joseph needing a kidney and was compelled to help.

"She asked me if I would consider it and my initial reaction was, 'You go, girl. That's all you,'" said Rudolf. "The conviction grew in me that, no, this was something I needed to consider myself also."

Joseph got an unexpected call from USC saying he had a transplant date.

"I was completely shocked. I mean I didn't really have friends or family that were willing to do it so to have a complete stranger, it was kind of out of the blue. [I] didn't think it was real," said Joseph.

"There [are] not a lot of huge life-saving steps we can take as people that you can immediately see the results," said Rudolf.

And now about a month later, both men are on the road to recovery.

Their entire families feel the impact.

"Extremely emotional. [They're] happy for me. [Lots] of prayers, lots of reaching out, lots of [just] hoping I'm doing well, hoping he’s doing well. My daughter, hoping that she’s happier. She doesn't have to see dad on dialysis anymore. I mean, it’s a night and day change," said Joseph.

Joseph at a loss for words

"What do you say? [They] don’t make a hallmark card that says, 'Thank you for the kidney,' you know what I mean? So what do you do?"

What they did do is get each other gifts, like customized cups and t-shirts.

"'I’m running on spare parts,' and then it has the date," Joseph said as he read the words on the cup. "A very special date. It’s like my other birthday."

"I think I got more than just a lousy t-shirt though. I think I got a friend out of it. Thank you," said Rudolf, giving Joseph a hug.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about becoming a live donor.

"Change a person's life if you can."