Responses vary when people hear that Summit Baptist Church associate pastor Jimmy Slick in Acworth, Georgia, donated one of his kidneys to a church member.
“One of the most frequent questions I get is, ‘Why did you give a kidney to someone who isn’t even related to you?’” Slick said. “Well, we are brothers in Christ. When we become followers of Christ, we become part of the body of Christ, and from that perspective we are family members.”
For the kidney recipient, Jack Abbott, Slick’s generosity was overwhelming.
‘Numb and shock’
“When he told me, ‘I have two kidneys; I’ll give you one of mine,’ the feeling was somewhere between numb and shock,” Abbott said. “I still can’t really wrap my mind around it.”
COVID-19 landed Abbott in the hospital for two weeks in January 2021. During one of those weeks, he was lying in intensive care and unaware of anything going on around him. That was followed by four weeks in a rehabilitation center to regain his strength.
Abbott, 77, had been on a transplant list for years because his kidneys were functioning at a 20 percent level. The virus had damaged them further and their function measured at only about 5 percent. That meant he had to go on dialysis, and it heightened his need for a transplant.
Then came the day Slick, 66, asked Abbott about his health. Abbott confided to Slick about his need for a kidney transplant.
“Then, I asked him his blood type,” Slick said. “I don’t know why I asked that question. It’s not something I routinely ask people. It turned out we’re both Type O negative.”
‘This is someone I can help’
Having the same blood type is crucial in determining a donor match. But extensive additional testing would be necessary to determine if Slick was a suitable donor.
Slick wasn’t really surprised when the doctors gave the go-ahead for the transplant surgery.
“I just felt like God was speaking to my heart, saying this is someone who I can help,” he said.
Abbott’s wife, Sandra, noted that while she’s beyond appreciative for what Slick did, she wasn’t really surprised by it.
“I know Jimmy and what a selfless person he is,” she said.
Six months after the Aug. 20 surgery, both men are doing well. Slick is leading worship at Summit. And Abbott is thanking the Lord and his pastor for the gift of life.
“I have been blessed beyond what I deserve,” he said.