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Son taught to ‘love thy neighbor’ helps save a life

Ann Hall
ahall7911@coconuttele.net

It isn’t often that a parent receives a phone call from an only son, announcing that he is donating a kidney in hopes of saving the life of a neighbor.

Such was the case for Eddie Hall of Capri and his son, Chris, 44, of Virginia Beach.

So many emotions are evoked by such an announcement. Fear, admiration, respect and worry are only a few, especially in light of the fact that the younger Hall has two children, ages 8 and 12, and had just remarried his childhood sweetheart on Aug. 14.

Chris Hall has lived across the street from his neighbor, Danny Laster, for about seven years. For the past several years, Hall has watched his neighbor struggling with acute kidney failure, having to spend much of his life undergoing dialysis to stay alive. Danny and his wife, Ramona, have two older children. Laster has been on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, but time was running out for him to have a chance for a successful transplant.

“There are no family members who were either healthy enough or a match to be Laster’s donor,” said Chris Hall.

“If I am a match, this is something I must do,” Chris Hall said in the phone call to his dad. “I have two healthy kidneys and can live on one. I can’t look in the mirror and feel good about myself knowing that I did not try to help my neighbor by giving him one of mine.”

Chris Hall and his wife, Beth, both agreed that this was the right thing for him to do.

On Oct. 27, Hall and Laster were admitted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va., where they were put in the hands of two well-known kidney transplant surgical teams. The surgery for both was long and tedious, with that of Laster compounded by excessive scar tissue discovered during surgery.

The hours proceeding, during, and following the surgeries were spent in prayer by family members, friends, and those who did not know the men but wanted to offer prayers for their successful recovery. Capri Christian Church Prayer Warriors (about 100 members) and their Prayer Shawl Ministry teams came out in full force to do what they could to offer comfort and support to these two families.

The good news immediately after the surgery was that Laster’s new kidney was functioning, and Hall’s remaining one was also. Then, as is sometimes the case with serious surgeries, the events turned sour for several days. Hall had to go back on a catheter to bring down his fever and return his oxygen levels to normal. Laster had to undergo dialysis to try and jump start his new kidney function.

On Oct. 31, Hall’s health had returned to normal and he was allowed to return home. Laster remains in the hospital, but the doctors feel that the issues he is facing will be resolved.

On one occasion, while Laster was experiencing the most intense pain he said he had ever had, Beth Hall put a prayer shawl over him.

“I can’t believe it, but my pain immediately subsided to tolerable,” said Laster.

The Capri Christian Church Prayer Shawl Ministry weaves prayers symbolized by ribbons into the knit as each shawl is made by hand. The Prayer Warriors have pledged to pray continuously for Hall and Laster until all is well.

Contact Ann Hall at ahall77911@coconuttele.net

Living Donors

Living donors are growing in number, according to the National Kidney Registry. The NKR reports that since the first successful living donor transplant that took place in Boston in 1954, there have been more than 50,000 living donors (5,000 per year) who have donated their kidneys to people facing kidney failure. Thousands of people facing kidney failure now live longer, healthier lives free from the constrictions of dialysis. This gift of life makes the difference. All living donors are awarded points for their donation so if they ever need a kidney later in life, they will be given priority on the deceased donor list.

Donating a kidney is major surgery, and not without risk, but has not been shown to reduce the donor's life expectancy. Some argue that the altruistic act of giving the gift of life and the happiness and satisfaction that follows has a positive impact and leads to a healthier and longer life for the donor.

For more information, or to become a donor, visit kidneyregistry.org.