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Metro Detroit man donating kidney to a friend says 'It was a no brainer'

Posted: 9:29 PM, Nov 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-05 22:33:01-05

It’s a bond between two metro Detroit men that will live on forever – and "live" is the main word.

Bert Whitehead is donating his kidney to Jerome Espy next month, but it was how the two came to find out Whitehead was a perfect donor match that's so special.

"Hearing that Tiger was going to give me a life saving kidney is just phenomenal," Espy said. 

Two men, two completely different lives, now together as one.

"I am really aware of how huge this is to receive a kidney, but then to receive a kidney from a guy who’s my brother and a brother in Christ as well, it’s just an amazing process," Espy said.

Four years ago Espy was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. His life change dramatically. He was going to dialysis everyday praying for a miracle. 

"Being in dialysis is a tremendous challenge," Espy said. "The thing I say a lot is it’s a new normal for me. Right now I’m used to it, but at the beginning it was very very challenging," 

Espy says having chronic kidney disease has been horrible, not only on his body but also affecting his energy levels. He’s a believer in God, and knew eventually his condition would change for the better.

Espy says he and his family would pray for better things to come, and it sure did.

It was at a dinner event where Bert Whitehead – who also goes by the nickname "Tiger" – was sitting across from Espy.

"My thought was, 'Well, if I’m a match I’d be glad to donate my kidney,'" Whitehead said. "I mean, there’s a long road I didn’t want to get his hopes up or mine." 

Espy says it was a no brainer to help your fellow man.

"If you have it in your power to do, go do it," Whitehead said. "So that’s always been there. If there’s an opportunity to do something I can do, then I’m going to see if I can do it."

Espy says Whitehead is doing more than saving his life, he’s bring hope and a renewed excitement that his prayers where answered.

"Its hard for me even to put into words what this gift that Tiger is giving me," Espy said. "It’s the best Christmas gift I could ever get."

The kidney transplant is scheduled for Dec. 7.  There is a GoFundMe  page set up to help the men as they recover from the surgery.