ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) - Two brothers, who’ve been separated by miles, will forever be linked now by a kidney.
One was in need and the other, even though he’s in the military, gave.
As brothers, Isidro and Reynaldo Guerrero are close. They’re even closer now.
“We’re very close, even though this happened. It’s catastrophic. But, I’m truly blessed,” Reynaldo said.
As children, Isidro says Reynaldo saved him once, when he was choking on a piece of candy.
“He gave it to me and said, ‘Don’t eat it.’
And, I was lying down. So, the first thing I do is eat it, and I start choking,” Isidro said.
“I couldn’t breathe and stuff and I was looking at him to help me. So, he ended up hitting me on the back and it came out,” Isidro said.
“I went, like, hard,” Reynaldo said showing how he slapped his brother on the back.
Isidro, now 20 and a U-S Marine, feels like he’s helping to save his older brother this time by giving him one of his kidneys.
“He didn’t even hesitate. He said, ‘I told you in the beginning, I’d give you both of mine,’” Reynaldo said.
Reynaldo, a fitness buff, went into kidney failure in March. He hadn’t even felt sick.
He had just gone for a physical to enter the military. The nurse also drew some blood and told him they would call him in two to three days.
“Next day, I was at lunch and she called me and she’s like, ‘You need to go to the emergency room,” Reynaldo said.
“It was shocking to me. I thought it was a joke. Because I felt healthy. But sure enough, I went to the ER and they did all the tests,” Reynaldo said.
The transplant operation, at UT Southwestern Medical Center, was scheduled for the day after Christmas.
There was a winter storm in Dallas. They drove from Comanche, Texas.
“We almost got in a wreck, me and my dad, in our car. There were so many obstacles along the way. But we made it safe,” Reynaldo said.
Isidro remembers the anesthesia.
“I remember waking up and I was like, ‘Y’all done prepping me for surgery? They’re, like, no. We’re done with surgery,” he said.
“I didn’t believe them. So, I lifted up what I was wearing and I was, like, ‘Wow.’ I didn’t feel anything,” he said.
Reynaldo, who’s 27, had already been on dialysis for nine months. He could have gone three to five more years waiting for someone else to donate a kidney.
“I was very speechless. I mean, it’s a gift – a gift of life,” Reynaldo said.
There were others who could have donated, like friends and family. There are ten children in the Guerrero family.
But it was the little brother who knew how quickly life can fade, who helped give a life back.
“I just thought, if it was me, I would want somebody to step up,” Isidro said.
Reynaldo has 12 more weeks of recovery. He’ll be on anti-rejection drugs the rest of his life.
He now hopes to, one day, use his fitness training to help dialysis and transplant patients.
Isidro Guerrero was given leave from the military for the transplant operation.
He’ll return to his base in California next week.
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