‘I Have to Try:’ Mayo Employee Donates Kidney to Friend in Need

Chad Corey with Chris Douglas

Chris Douglas learned via Twitter one evening that long-time acquaintance Chad Corey needed a kidney transplant. The next day, Chris began taking steps that would ultimately change Chad's life.

Chris Douglas tells us he was "flipping through" Twitter one evening last August when he saw a tweet that stopped his fingers cold. Long-time acquaintance and fellow sports photographer Chad Corey was in kidney failure and needed a transplant. Chris, principal business analyst in Mayo Clinic's Division of Media Support Services in Rochester, tells us he was powerless over what happened next. "Something inside of me just clicked," he says. "After reading that tweet, I told myself, 'I have to try."

Chris sent Chad a direct message via Twitter, asking what the process was to become a living donor. "He told me he wasn't yet sure," Chris tells us. "So I came in to work the next day, found the paperwork myself, and filled it out."   

A few weeks later, Chris got a call from Mayo Clinic's Transplant Center. "We did about a half-hour phone interview," he says. "They just wanted to ask me questions about my health as an initial high-level screening to see if I should continue on."

After passing that test, Chris was asked if he'd like to continue on to the next step in the process, which meant having his blood drawn and sent for testing. A short time later, Transplant Center staff called Chris to schedule a kidney function test.  

"I found out later that once they finished the blood test they knew I was a match for Chad," Chris tells us. "The kidney function testing was more for me to make sure I was healthy enough and that my kidneys were healthy enough for transplant, and to ensure I'd have a good outcome myself post-transplant."

It wasn't until then that Chris' and Chad's respective care teams at Mayo Clinic sat down with each other for the first time. "Mayo keeps donor and recipient care teams separated throughout the testing process because they don't want to put undue pressure on the potential donor," Chris says. "But after my kidney function testing, they had a meeting and decided I was good to go."

Chris was excited, especially when given the chance to deliver the news to Chad himself. "Mayo let me call him first," he tells us. "So I called Chad right away, and when he answered I said, 'How would you like one of my kidneys?'"

Chad tells us excitement doesn't begin to describe his response. "How can you properly respond to something like that?" he says. "He was literally offering to change my life. That's not something I can put into words. What he did is incredible."

Almost as incredible as Chris says it was to see Chad for the first time after Patrick Dean, M.D., and Mikel Prieto, M.D., performed the transplant last month. "I've never known Chad to have color in his cheeks," Chris says. "The whole time I've known him he's had a grayish/ashen look to him because of the problems with his kidneys. But the very next day after our transplant, color returned to his face," he tells us. "That's the thing that stands out to me most, and it confirmed that the kidney I'd given him was doing its job. I'm not normally an emotional person, but seeing that was emotional for me."

You can listen to Chad and Chris talk more about their kidney transplant story in this Mayo Clinic Radio interview. Then share your comments below. You can use the handy social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.