Friend helping friend: kidney donation gives the gift of life

WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A friendship of nearly 20 years leads to a life-saving donor match.

Brandon Hodges coaches ball at The Oakwood School and mentors kids on and off the field.

At age 42, he’s no stranger to kidney disease.

Hodges said, “I was diagnosed at 14. Found out it was IgA Nephritis and I went all through the years of it really not bothering me.”

But recently things have been getting worse.

“Right now my kidney function is anywhere between a 12 and 16 percent,” said Hodges. “Yours is probably anywhere between 90 to 100 percent.”

In July doctors told Hodges he would need a transplant.

He started his search at Duke’s hospital but experienced little progress.

In January, he moved to Vidant Medical Center.

Nearly two weeks ago he was put on the donor list in Pitt County.

Hodges said, “A week and a half later Mike Ward was my donor. It’s a God thing man; it really is a God thing.”

There was a match.

Mike Ward has been friends with Hodges for nearly 20 years.

When he heard of the need for a kidney over Facebook, Ward said he was called to donate with no hesitation.

“When God tells you to do something you don’t question those decisions,” said Ward.

On Thursday night, The Biscuit and the Bean in Winterville hosted an event for the two men.

Owner Laura Smith is no stranger to what Hodges and Ward are about to go through.

Smith’s son donated a kidney to her father.

“We are able to use this business to give back,” Smith said. “We like to help others learn about donation. Other causes are important to us but we have literally walked this road so when we say we know how you feel.”

Josh Smith is Laura’s son. He said, “Overall it’s just gratifying knowing you’ve changed someone’s life for the better. Plenty of people talk about wanting to change the world or change someone’s life. That’s the best thing you can do is to give life.”

As Hodges and Ward prepare for their upcoming surgeries they’re finding a family of sorts on the road to donation.

Like Thomas and Joy Smith.

Thomas just served as a donor for his wife 6 weeks ago.

Joy Smith said, “It’s exciting it’s a little nerve-racking. A lot of things go through your mind.”

With their surgeries only five days away, Hodges and Ward said there’s a greater power to thank.

“God is good. God is really good,” said Hodges.

If you would like to donate to the Go-Fund-Me for medical costs, CLICK HERE.

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