Veteran donates kidney to man he served with 20 years ago

An army veteran took the meaning of military brotherhood to heart when he gave his kidney to a friend that he served with more than two decades ago.

Kai Johns, 44, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in November after he experience flu-like symptoms.

“I went to urgent care and said I needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. They immediately admitted me and told me I had six percent kidney function,” Johns told “My body was just filled with toxins.”

Johns started dialysis three times a week. Doctors initially thought his kidneys might recover, but that wasn’t the case.

He was stuck staring down a donor list that would take roughly seven years to top. O-positive kidneys, Johns’ blood type, are hard to come by, he was told.

“Dialysis is no way to live,” Johns said.

So his wife started a Facebook page in December, “A Kidney For Kai,” to begin the rigorous search for an organ for her husband.

“It got shared like crazy. We went on the hunt for a living donor,” Johns said.

That’s when Johns’ old military buddy, Robert Harmon, stepped up to help out a longtime friend.

Johns and Harmon have known each other for 22 years but hadn’t seen each other in 15. The two served in the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“We were paratroopers in the Army together and that brotherhood runs deep,” Harmon told The Military Times.

Harmon messaged Johns’ wife and after months of testing, he turned out to be a perfect match.

“For someone to offer up a piece of themselves to save your life, there are no words for it. It was an eternal thanks,” Johns said. “We were always good friends. It’s just that military brotherhood.”

The surgery took place at the end of April and both men are doing well.

“I am back at work. We were both up and walking the day after the surgery,” Johns said.