Jaime David de León of Jersey City waited while on dialysis for four years for a kidney to no avail. His universal-donor blood type, O positive, put organs in high demand.
His situation was so prolonged and grim that doctor's decided to try an experimental procedure on him with a non-compatible kidney, a course that got shut down as soon as it started when his wife Theresa's blood pressure was too high for her to be his donor.
Theresa, vice president of Wealth Management at PNG Bank, imparted this story on Senior Vice President Ken Wenger on their way to a business function one day when he asked why she missed work.
That's when things began to turn around.
“I was shocked that he was on dialysis for so long. I talked to my wife and said, ‘I want to take care of this.’ When I feel I can do something I must,” Wenger said.
Wenger had a brother born with only one kidney and spent a lifetime anticipating giving his kidney to him. His brother, who is living a healthy life, gave him his blessing, and Wenger proceeded with the surgery.
Wenger said his actions came from his long admiration for Theresa and a solid friendship outside of work.
“I thought, would I give a kidney to Theresa? Yes, and by extension I did,” he said.
While he wasn't too familiar with Jamie prior to the surgery, the two have formed a friendship, and Jaime introduces Wenger to others as his brother.
Jaime will now lead one of 300 teams at the NJ Sharing Network’s Annual 5K June 8 to express his gratitude.