In this season of giving, one man's chance encounter produced a big, life-saving gift.
For 20 years, 55-year-old Gil Alexander has been struggling with two failing kidneys. The fourth-generation farmer from Nicodemus, KS, had to spend hours on dialysis.
"You know, four hours a day during harvest when you need to be busy with planting or harvest - it's a big chunk out of your day. Plus you don't feel that well after doing dialysis treatment," Alexander said.
But he said his life has been changed forever after having a kidney transplant at the University of Kansas Medical Center three days ago.
It's all thanks to hunter Rob Robinson from Mississippi who showed up on his doorstep a year ago and asked for permission to hunt turkey on his northwest Kansas farm.
"He pitched a tent out in my backyard and I finally convinced him that it's cool to come in the house. We got to talking and got to be friends," Alexander said.
"I got him watching SEC football and he has me watching K-State," Robinson said.
When Robinson learned his Kansas friend needed a kidney transplant, he didn't hesitate to be tested to see if he was a match.
"I hate to see anybody hurting and restricted. I've been active and farmers are active I said, 'let's see what happens,'" he said.
What happened was the two men were a match and they soon looked to the donation. Doctors said both men had successful surgeries and getting a kidney from a live donor will be much better for Alexander.
"Not only the bond the donor has with recipient, but that kidney (from a live donor) usually last longer than an average deceased donor kidney by three to five years," said Dr. Sean Kumer, surgical director of the liver transplant.
Both Alexander and Robinson are men of faith and they believe this was divine intervention. They point to the Bible, specifically Hebrews 13:2, as the real message behind their special bond.
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels."
"To paraphrase it of course it's be careful your treatment of strangers because you never know when you might be entertaining angels unaware. And that's my angel right there," Alexander said.
Now that he's no longer tied to a dialysis machine, Alexander said he's planning a trip to Mississippi to visit Robinson and his wife to keep the special friendship going strong.
"I've said this before, the kidney thing is just a bonus. Rob is just a good guy," Alexander said. "I mean we'd be friends if it wasn't the kidney involved. He's cool to be around. He's teaching me about turkey hunting and deer hunting."
"I was just trying to be a good guy," Robinson said.
Doctors said Robinson will be able to return to his active life as a hunter and firefighter and his remaining kidney will pick up the slack and work just fine.
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