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My Generation

One Kidney, Two Hearts

The incredible bond between organ donor and receiver

Rosemary deButts is a typical Virginia family woman. One night before bed, she stumbled upon an article about kidney donations. “It described in great detail how comparatively easy it is for a person to donate a kidney,” she said. “But the impact that it has on the recipient is huge.” Without any say or knowledge of who would receive her generous gift, she decided to go for it.

See also: Learn about organ transplants and donors.

Now meet Reverend Oliver “OJ” Johnson, the beneficiary of Rosemary’s gift. OJ is a black man whose ancestors once worked the plantations of Robert E. Lee. With deep roots in poverty and the black community, he has been a preacher of self-reliance and self-determination all his life. So when his kidneys failed back in 2002, he didn’t exactly jump at the idea of accepting one as a gift…especially not from a white woman.

“How do I deal with the fact that I am a black person that believes that black people should be independent and self-supporting on their own?” says OJ.

Although hesitant at first, OJ accepted Rosemary’s donation. Now both doing well, their connection has brought them closer than they ever imagined. My Generation joined these now close friends as they look back on their unexpected but incredible journey together.

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