It took six months of testing and looking for a match, and then the hospital called him to say they found someone he could help.
Bartling said he was feeling great six days after donating a kidney. He had no idea who would receive the kidney, but after the surgery he met Jess.
"(She’s) a mother, a wife, and that means the most to me,” he said.
Buffington said her good friend is making progress and the two of them share a much stronger bond, even though Jess didn't receive one of Buffington's kidneys.
“She is kind of having a rough time of it, but she will make it,” Buffington said. “She is an amazing person. She's got a good, positive attitude, so she will get there.”
But Bartling’s gift began a chain reaction that resulted in three people receiving a kidney. His went to Jess, Jess’ friend Buffington was a match for 2-year-old Beckham Fershtut, and his dad, Ari Fershtut, was a match for Romero.
"And that way we were able to build a chain and take two incompatible pairs plus a non-directed donor and transplant three patients," said Dr. Jeffrey Campsen, who performed all three surgeries on the donors.
University Hospital was the location where all the kidney donors had their surgeries, along with two recipients. Primary Children's Medical Center was where the surgery on 2-year-old Beckham Fershtut was performed.
Ari Fershtut said the whole process was a great idea.
“Instead of helping one person, six (people's) lives are affected, and it’s a wonderful blessing,” he said.
Bartling said donating a kidney has been life-changing for him, a chance to give back for what he has.
"We really do have to help each other, to make society better, and we have to give more than we take on occasion, and that is how I got to be here. I wanted to give more than I take,” Bartling said. “It’s such a great feeling, just to help.”
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc
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