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A Story Of Love: Best Friend Gives The Gift Of Life

By KJ Mullins     Apr 4, 2008 in Health
When Stephen Gottschalk needed a new kidney his best friend Michael A. Moore thought nothing of getting tested to give his friend the gift of life. That test may have saved Moore's life in the long run.
Moore, 51, of Westfield, Ind. called his best friend from high school Gottschalk, 50, of Hillsboro, Mo. last year when Alport's disease caused the man's kidneys to fail to see if it was okay with him if he was tested to donate a kidney.
He found out on Nov. 19 that he was a positive match but at the same time he was pre-diabetic. That condition is one of the ones that makes donation impossible. Moore decided to change his life style in order to improve his own health and by doing so be able to donate to his friend. He lost 25 pounds by going on the Atkins diet and started to workout. He also started posting low key videos to YouTube to boost Gottschalk's spirits. Health officials though were able to view those videos and watch his organ donation process.
His healthy attitude and new found body was deemed clear to have the donation surgery. On Wednesday the day before the operation that will hopefully give his friend a better quality of life he visited his friend's Barnes-Jewish Hospital room minus his former man boobs.
"If you came to me on Nov. 19, and said, 'Mike, you've got to stop eating chocolate or you'll die,' I'd have said, 'Let's order a chocolate cake and plan a funeral.' I would not have lost this weight for myself."
As boys the two played football for Hillsboro High School, participated in rodeos on the weekends and had the same friends. Moore was the extrovert while Gottschalk the academic.
After they finished school they both went to work in the 1970s for the same construction company. Later they took a gamble and tried to drive a truck together.
"Oh, it was bad. His feet stunk, and I snored," Moore recalled.
The two remained close even when Moore moved to Westfield, Ind. where he owns a safety consultant business and is a volunteer fireman.
Kidney disease runs in Gottschalk's family so his relatives could not become donor candidates. He still can't find the words to describe the gift his friend Moore gave on Thursday.
"He's going to save my life. How do you...? I'm just in awe of the whole thing. It's hard to describe in words," he said.
On Thursday the pair were under the knife for six hours in side by side operating rooms. The friends are part of the 16,600 kidney transplant operations that go on each year in the United States.
But this isn't the story of a transplant operation, it's the story of the love between two best friends.
Both men were doing well right after surgery. When Moore is back up and about he plans to give Gottschalk a "deed of transfer and ownership" for the kidney stating that Moore gave it freely and willingly to his friend. The deed also comes with a few disclaimers such as "any neglect to kidney prior to transplant that may or may not have been caused by consumption of Anheuser-Busch or like products."
If Michael wakes up in pain:
"I look forward to sitting in Steve's recovery room and blaming him."
Donating an organ is the true gift of life whether the donation comes in your lifetime or just after your death. In order to donate your organs after you are dead your family needs to know your wishes. Carrying a organ donor card in your wallet is one step in the right direction if you want your death to become another's chance of life.
More about Michael Moore, Steve gottschalk, Kidney donation