Kidney Companions


C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.  It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.

Enter, Buster and Kristi. 

“We bought furniture from his store,” Kristi Vaughn said.  “We kinda vaguely recognized each other, I think.”

Two acquaintances turned fast friends. 

“She’s family now,” Buster Foster said.  ” She’s one of us for sure.”

It was destiny that these two meet.  Kristi, you see, was meant to save her friend.

“I went into kidney failure back in September– complete kidney failure,”  Buster said.  “So I had put out kind-of a letter on Facebook to my friends–letting them know what was wrong and kinda pleading– if anybody wanted to or could, you know, that I was in need of a kidney.”

Family members and friends tested, but for one reason or another, no one was a good candidate.  Meanwhile, Buster’s health was failing.  The hours were hard.  The days– even harder.  His hope was dwindling. 

But, little did Buster know, Kristi heard his story and had already put wheels in motion to donate her own kidney. 
 “My nephew had to have a liver transplant; my husband had donor bone in his knee,” she said.  “We’ve been on the receiving end, and I just felt compelled for lack of a better word to put something back in the grid.'”

She was a match.

“I got a call– everything looks perfect,”  Krisit said.  “Not only are you a match, you’re a really good match.”

Kristi called Buster. “She said, I’ve got something I need to tell you,” Buster said.  “I thought maybe there was a furniture need or a furniture problem.”

It wasn’t furniture. 

“And she said, “I’m giving you one of my kidneys.”

There were tears. 

“Oh, I couldn’t quit crying,” he said.  “I still cry when I think about it.  I cry all the time.”

And so, a few weeks later, Kristi and Buster went to Fort Worth to get his life back. 

“The first words out of my mouth were, “How’s Buster?” Kristi said. 

The surgery went well.  There were some complications after the transplant, but Buster fought through. 

“The difference– t was automatic. It was just incredible,”  he said.  “I have not felt like that in three or four years.”

From friendship to family, all thanks to a kidney.

“Yah, she saved my life– I think God sent her there.  I think it’s how it happened.”

Thousands of kidneys are donated each year by live donors.  Dr. Dan Hendrick, a nephrologist in Amarillo, says we have plenty of renal function to go around.

“Donor candidates are carefully selected such that they are less likely to loose kidney function in the future,” he said.  “Potential candidates with diabetes or hypertension, for example, are not allowed to donate a kidney”
“When a kidney is removed from a live donor, the kidney function is immediately 50% of baseline; however, the remaining kidney grows over the following few weeks, eventually reaching a level of 70-80% of baseline.”
“Donors do have a small but measurable increase in risk for end-stage kidney disease,” Hendrick continued. “Available studies indicate no difference of survival between donors and non-donors, but longer term (greater than 15 years) data is lacking.”
“Overall, donation is a wonderful thing to consider that certainly increases the recipient’s length and quality of life,”  he said.”
Buster and Kristi are advocates for organ donation.  Locally, they work with Trio, an organization the works to educate people more about the process.  The easiest way to let your family know you want to donate your organs is to document it on your driver license. 

For more information on organ donation, visit these links:

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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