Two Michigan Men Who Are Longtime Friends Discover They Have Same Organ Donor

By @vitthernandez on
Organ Donation
Gordon Veldman and Fred Nelis became friends 10 years ago through mutual friend. The two men in their 60s had organ transplant surgeries on June 28, 2014, at the Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Michigan. They were unaware of each other’s presence in the medical facility until after the successful surgeries, but their families and friends found out on the day of the transplant, reports Woodenradio.com. (IN PHOTO) Surgeon James Guarrera prepares a donated harvested kidney to transplant into patient Adam Abernathy as part of a five-way organ transplant swap in New York, August 1, 2012. Abernathy's partner David Ferguson donated a kidney for transplant to a stranger while at the same time someone donated a kidney to Abernathy as part of chain of kidney donations that allowed five people to receive a transplanted kidney of a two day period. The health dangers for kidney donors is believed to be low. The risk of death from the surgery is 1 in 1,700. Reuters

Gordon Veldman and Fred Nelis became friends 10 years ago through mutual friend. The two men in their 60s had organ transplant surgeries on June 28, 2014, at the Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Michigan.

They were unaware of each other’s presence in the medical facility until after the successful surgeries, but their families and friends found out on the day of the transplant, reports Woodenradio.com.

Veldman and Nelis would only learn later that the source of their organ donations was a common friend who died, which made the transplant possible.

Veldman, 67, was unaware he was suffering from a genetic lung condition, Alpha One, when he reached his 50s. In February 2014, only 15 percent of his lung was functioning, causing his face and fingers to turn purple and affecting his speech.

Nelis, 60, a swimmer with the Masters Swimming programme for the past 47 years, noticed a deterioration in his performance in the early 2000s due to his heart problem.

Informed by family members of each other’s presence in the same hospital, the two men started with “hi’s” and waves until their friendship became stronger, especially after they learned that they share the same donor.

Nine months later, because of the transplants, Veldman now enjoys a lung with a 96 percent capacity, while Nelis resumed swimming four days weekly.

Veldman shares, “Every time we get together, we put the heart and lung together as close as we can just for a moment so that they can be – and I say this with a grain of salt – so they can be close again.”

As a result, the two now call themselves transplant brothers, reports WZZM. Both have also become active campaigners to Michigan’s organ donor registry.

To contact the writer, email: v.hernandez@ibtimes.com.au