Pastor donates his own kidney to save a stranger

(Screen grab from Kidney Transplant Fund)

Tim B Jones met Don Herbert just this October, but already the 44-year-old pastor of Mercy Independent Baptist is ready to give one of his kidneys for his new friend.

Herbert, a former professional wrestler known as John Savage and currently a member of the gospel-singing group The Parables of Christ, is in Stage 4 of kidney failure and is in urgent need of a transplant.

When Herbert and his wife, Belinda, stopped by the craft and bake sale in Jones' newly founded church on October 25, they had no idea that they were going to meet the man who would be the answer to their prayers.

Herbert almost never met Jones as it was just a chance encounter. When they pulled over, the 56-year-old gospel singer told his wife he would just stay in the car while she looked around.

But gospel music wafted through the church's open front door, and it drew Herbert inside the building, where he saw Jones. Soon, the two were conversing about their shared love for gospel music.

Said Jones, "Right before Don showed up, I was ready to leave. I would have missed him, but I believe in the will of God, and I believe God puts people in your path for a reason."

No mention of kidney problems was made during their entire conversation. Jones, who is also a surgical technologist at Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast, learned of Herbert's pressing health issues only later on when he read Belinda's Facebook post in which she described her husband's condition and pleaded for help.

"I want to grow old with Don by my side," she wrote.

Herbert, who had undergone a liver transplant in March 2013 after being on the waiting list for organ donation for 12 years, found out in early November that both his kidneys were failing and that he needed a heart catheterisation. The Duke University Medical Center informed him that the dye used in the procedure would destroy his already-faltering kidneys and would force him to undergo permanent dialysis.

Jones was filled with compassion for Herbert. After consulting with his wife and praying over the matter, Jones found his heart set.

"I made a decision that I wanted to help this guy," Jones said. "I prayed about it. You'll never find anybody who says a negative thing about Don or his wife. If anybody deserves something good in life, it's him."

The Herberts were instantly filled with hope when Jones told them of his decision to donate a kidney for Don.

"Nobody wants to help anybody anymore, at least you think, but I'm glad that there are still some people that are willing to help," Herbert said.

"It's scary, I work in surgery, I deal with things like this everyday. There's always risk but I know who I believe in and I know that God's got a plan, so that part doesn't worry me," said Jones.

The men have undergone testing and were found to be a physical match. They are hoping that the transplant can be done by March.

A grateful Herbert said, "Definitely God arranged the whole thing. I think he puts some things in our lives to test our faith and see how far he can trust us to go."

When asked about Jones, Herbert admits he is at a loss as to how he can repay his dear friend.

"I don't know how you repay it. If you find a good answer, let me know. I pray that the Lord gives me something I can do for him down the road. I will always be indebted to him. Whatever I have or whatever I can do for him and his family, I'll do," Herbert said.