News flash: Kidneys don’t have to be color coordinated.
Mackie Hayes and Dennis Preble proved that on May 16, when Preble’s “white” kidney went into Hayes’ “black” body.
The crux of the story actually begins a few years after Hayes and Preble met in a Sunday School class at Del City, Del View on Oct. 16, 2005.
In March 2009, Preble lost a close friend to death. He stayed by his friend’s bedside for four months. Then after he died, Preble, who had not been to a doctor in years, decided to have a check-up.
“The doctor asked me if I wanted to see my 2-year-old granddaughter start kindergarten,” recalled Preble. “He said if I did not make some changes in my life, I would not live that long.”
Preble started eating healthy and exercising and lost 80 pounds. When he returned to the doctor, he was pronounced in perfect health.
But about the time Preble’s health was declared top-notch, Hayes’ health began going downhill. In April 2010, he started having fainting spells, and his blood pressure rose dramatically. His kidneys began to fail, and he was put on dialysis. On Aug. 9, he was admitted to the hospital in Norman, where he spent the next 52 days.
When Preble heard Hayes was in the hospital, he felt impressed to visit him.
“He was in a lot of distress, and I knew he needed a kidney,” Preble said.
It was sometime in November when God began to deal with Preble about donating a kidney to Hayes.
About that time, Del View’s interim pastor, Robert Griffin, preached a sermon on loving God and loving your neighbors. That became the impetus for Preble to have his first test for a kidney match on Jan. 18. Every test, and there were many of them, came back positive—Preble’s kidney was a perfect match for Hayes.
Since the decision to give away a kidney affected not only him, but also his wife, Paulette, the couple together prayed about what to do. To somewhat complicate matters, Paulette has had off and on kidney problems, and the possibility exists that she may someday need a kidney transplant herself.
But Paulette said, from the beginning, she has had a peace about Dennis donating one of his kidneys.
“The sovereign God knows our needs, and He can meet the need if Paulette needs a kidney sometime in the future,” said Dennis.
So, one Sunday, Preble gave Hayes’ wife, Cathy, an envelope, which contained the Prebles’ decision for Dennis to give a kidney to Hayes. He intended for her to open it after the worship service.
But, being curious, she opened the envelop during the church service, and started crying. She gave it to her husband to read, and he too started crying.
“I had given up,” said Hayes. “I thought God was punishing me. I couldn’t believe Dennis was willing to give one of his kidneys to me.”
Eighty-seven days after his first kidney match test, Preble was wheeled into the operating room at Nazih Zuhdi Transplant Institute at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where surgeon E.N. Scott Samara removed his kidney and placed it in the body of his brother in Christ, Mackie Hayes.
“We became like brothers in the hospital,” said Hayes.
Hayes was released from the hospital June 2, and spent the next several days recuperating at the home of his pastor, Griffin, and his wife, Faye.
“It has been great to just watch these brothers and sisters through this experience,” said Griffin.
Hayes, who now lives in Wichita Falls, Texas, but is still a member at Del View, returned home on June 10. He and his wife were given some property in Wichita Falls, and have opened a restaurant—Above Average Barbecue—with “fall off the bone ribs,” Hayes said. The building they were given has two stories, and they hope to turn the top floor into a ministry for troubled kids.
“You never know what God is going to ask of you,” said Hayes. “I used to hear about miracles, but now I’ve lived through one.”