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Man donates kidney to fellow Union student


JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Alvin Jeffery knew that Dustin Mayfield needed help, so he leaped at the chance to offer it.

After all, what’s a kidney between friends?

“I have two of them,” Jeffery said. “Some people say God gave you two kidneys for a reason. Maybe it’s so you can give one away to someone who doesn’t have it.”

Jeffery, who is from Jonesboro, Ark., and graduated from Union University in May, donated a kidney to Union junior Dustin Mayfield in a transplant operation in June in Memphis. The operation was a success, and both men are well on the way to recovery.

“I just feel like God lined us up and took care of it all,” Mayfield said. “I love Alvin to death. I guess he’s kind of my hero. I can’t think of anyone better to get a kidney from than him.”

Mayfield, of Millington, Tenn., has a rare genetic disease called Alport syndrome that keeps the kidneys from developing properly. He has known for years that he would one day need a kidney transplant.

He hadn’t experienced any physical problems, however, until his first year of college at Union, when he could tell he was getting weaker and sicker.

“That was when I first started feeling bad,” Mayfield said. “Nothing really hindered me at all until the end of my first year of college.”

Mayfield began talking to a transplant team at the hospital in August 2006. When his Union friends discovered that Mayfield would need a transplant, some of them began offering to donate. Jeffery was one of those, and he was serious about it. Mayfield felt completely at ease with the idea of Jeffery as a donor.

Jeffery, a nursing major who will begin a job at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in August, said he had multiple reasons for offering to help.

“I had always thought it would be cool to donate a kidney,” he said. “It’s something my mom has always instilled in me, to donate an organ if I get a chance to.”

He had other reasons for doing so.

“It’s going to teach me how to be more empathetic to my patients,” Jeffery said.

Tests confirmed that Jeffery and Mayfield were a close enough match, so they proceeded with plans for surgery. On June 4, Jeffery took his nursing board exams in Springfield, Mo. The next day he donated a kidney -– and found out that he had passed the exams, making him a nurse.

“The surgery went great,” Mayfield said after the transplant. “No complications. My kidneys are working well and producing a lot of urine, which is a good sign.”

All indications are that Mayfield’s body has accepted the kidney.

“I could tell people were praying for me,” Mayfield said. “There’s no way that it could have worked out better than it did. Everyone’s been very supportive.”

Mayfield and his family are thankful for Jeffery’s selflessness.

“I keep calling him our hero,” said Gail Mayfield, Dustin’s mother. “For someone to step up and give a kidney –- he knew it was going to be painful. He was all for it and never had a doubt. It takes someone special.”
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    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth
    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.Read All by Tim Ellsworth ›