Friend saves man's life with kidney donation

Rob Harmon, transplant donor is on the left. Kai Johns, transplant recipient, is on the right. (Courtesy of Rob Harmon, Kai Johns)

Until a few months ago Kai Johns and Rob Harmon hadn’t seen each other in nearly 20 years. Now, Harmon is staying temporarily at Johns’ home in Loudoun County as they recover, together, from an improbable surgery that defines service and sacrifice.

Kai Johns says, “In the end we were all brothers and would do anything for anyone in that unit.”

In their early 20s, they were paratroopers at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. Johns is now an engineer with Sprint. Harmon is still in the Army, a Sgt. First Class stationed in Georgia.

They stayed in touch through Facebook: a connection that would prove lifesaving. In November, Johns fell ill. His wife posted a frantic plea for a kidney donor.

“It was a call of desperation. Hey, I’m on dialysis. I’m in kidney failure," says Johns.

Within 24 hours, his old pal Rob Harmon volunteered. He turned out to be a perfect match.

“It was like a no brainer. I saw the post and I was like what I can I do to help," says Harmon.

Johns says, “You are literally, knowingly saving somebody’s life. It’s as simple as that. There’s no thanks you can give.”

Last Thursday, a transplant team at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital successfully put one of Rob’s kidneys into Kai.

“To me it’s helping a friend," says Harmon.

As they recover there’s time to reflect on the power of selflessness and bonds that never break.

“There’s a few people I would do it for. Kai just happened to be the first to ask.”

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