Life changing kidney transplant links strangers from across the globe

3:10 PM, Jan 19, 2013   |    comments
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ROCHESTER, Minn. -- "I'm one lucky guy," 64 year old Don Holmes of Vadnais Heights said, as he navigated the halls of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Friday afternoon. Holmes was walking around carrying a gift he had received a couple days prior.

"I have the capacity to give and I want to do that," Anthony Parr of Tasmania, Australia said in a nearby room.

"I never can thank him enough. We're going to be together for a long time. I'm going to have his kidney and his kidney is going to make me a better golfer hopefully," Holmes said, after joining Parr in his hospital room.

"It's pretty amazing the kind of people that we meet that want to do this for somebody else," Dr. Mikel Prieto, the head of Mayo's Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Program, explained.

Holmes had a kidney donor all lined up last summer, but doctors cancelled the procedure at the last possible moment after discovering the match wasn't perfect. So he posted his profile on a matching donor website, and Parr answered his call in November. A month later Holmes got the email he had long been searching for. "In big bold letters it said WE'RE MATCHED!"

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic performed the life changing procedure on Wednesday and both men were expected to walk out of the clinic a few days later.

While the definition of par is an average score in golf, Anthony Parr is far from average. The Tasmanian Angel, as Holmes calls him, has donated blood or plasma more than 250 times. We asked him where this altruism comes from. "I'm one of 10 children and my parents; they're both not well. (But) they've been very generous with their children, they've given so much, and I've picked that up," Parr, choking back tears, explained.

"It was, I suppose, even selfish for me because I found someone that was interested in me too. They wanted a gift that I've got," Parr told KARE 11.

Don Holmes is lucky. He'll be the first to admit it. He is lucky that Anthony Parr was, in his own words, "selfish." "The surgery was just 48 hours ago and I feel good. I'm sore, but I feel good," Holmes concluded.

We all feel good. The Holmes family is calling the transplant a "Christmas Miracle" from "St. Anthony."

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