It wasn't exactly a campaign promise, but one Middle Tennessee politician still kept true to his word. A few months ago, Clarksville Ward 1 Councilman Nick Steward learned a man he only knew in passing desperately needed a kidney, so he offered him his.
Early Tuesday morning, the new best friends checked into Vanderbilt University Medical Center for the life-saving transplant.
"Ready to rock 'n' roll," Steward said.
If not for the hospital gown and IV, you might have thought Steward was gearing up for a big game, but the stakes here were far higher.
"I'll never be able to thank you enough. I'm serious. You're saving my life," said donation recipient Wiley Bird.
Bird began losing use of his kidneys 12 years ago due to polycystic disease, and after a year of dialysis his doctors found a match. But a decade later, that kidney also started to fail.
The likelihood of finding another donor was slim, or so the 56-year-old thought.
"Found out through the Facebook page that we had the same blood type," Steward said.
When Steward isn't at City Hall, he's a realtor at Keller Williams, where he met Bird's wife, Kitty, three years ago.
She had started an online push called "Wiley's Kidney Kampaign" to raise awareness and find a donor.
"Probably about two weeks after I found out, I started thinking about the kidney donation process, did some of my research online and reached out to Wiley and told him I was interested in being tested," Steward said.
It turned out he's a perfect match.
Now, with their families by their side, the two friends prepared Tuesday for the kidney transplant.
"I'll be in pain and discomfort, but it's fine. It's a lot better than dialysis 12 hours a week," Steward said.
"It's an amazing gift," Kitty Bird said. "So humbled - just on our knees crying, thanking God."
After their vitals were checked, and a few last-minute preps it was time for the men to go into the operation.
"I adore him. He's my life," Kitty Bird said. "Looking forward to our new life together, thanks to Nick."
The surgeries were a success, and the recovery time is expected to be about three weeks. Bird said, after the surgery, he'll have to reduce his protein intake, avoid contact sports and watch his blood pressure.
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