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Pastor donates kidney to member of his congregation

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 27 2013 12:10 p.m. MDT

Bruce McComb, 60, received a kidney from his pastor, Father Jonathan Goertz, 31, on June 11.

Screenshot from CatholicVirginian.org

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As pastor of the St. Timothy Parish in Tappahannock, Va., Father Jonathan Goertz has given guidance, counsel, time and, now, his kidney. On June 11 Goertz gave one of his kidneys to Bruce McComb, a member of his congregation.

“It always strikes me when I meet somebody who has any kind of need — physical, spiritual or emotional — is it possible that I could be the person who can respond to this need,” Goertz said in an interview with The Catholic Virginian.

This was not McComb’s first kidney transplant. In 2002, McComb received a kidney from his wife, but his body later rejected the organ. For the past three and a half years he lived on dialysis, and even retired early due to kidney disease. McComb tried to find a kidney donor for the past four years, but the tests family and friends ran did not match his need.

“I never lost faith that I would get a kidney, but I found it frustrating that there were six people who had been tested, and for one reason or another it didn’t work out,” McComb said to The Catholic Virginian.

When Goertz, who was already looking to donate one of his kidneys, heard about McComb’s situation, he wanted to help. McComb was grateful for Goertz’s willingness to give.

“God aligned the stars for me to be at church and for Father Jonathan to be not only my pastor, but one that I had no antibodies against. He was a perfect match and he was unwaveringly willing to do it,” McComb said. “I still find it very thought-provoking that he and I would meet in the small town of Tappahannock and, by the grace of God, I happened to be helped physically and received spiritual help also.”

Despite possible health concerns from the procedure, Goertz felt the kidney transplant was the right thing to do.

“As a pastor, as a shepherd, it is irresponsible to ignore his health and not tend to the needs of his flock,” Goertz said in the article. “I kept asking God and kept asking the doctors, doing my own research, and it was confirmed over and over and over that I would have some temporary impact from the surgery but that there would be no adverse effects on my life in ministry with one kidney.”

Other pastors have donated kidneys to parishioners, according to the Huffington Post.

Abby Stevens is a writer for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact Abby at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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