ANDERSON CO., S.C. (WSPA) – An Anderson veteran in the group Vets Helping Vets Anderson will donate his kidney to save a fellow veteran’s life Thursday.
Both men are members of the group, which meets weekly and has more than a hundred members.
Konrad served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and says he’s still paying the price for his time in combat.
“Agent orange exposure – I believe that’s the real culprit,” Konrad said. “It started out as Hepatitis C, which got into the liver [and] became non-alcoholic Sclerosis.”
Over the past 5 years, he’s been on a waiting list for kidney and liver transplants. He received a liver transplant two years ago, but time is ticking for a kidney.
“There have been a lot of square ones through this whole process,” he said.
As Konrad went through his liver transplant, group members took turns cutting Konrad’s lawn.
When his wife Bonnie Konrad let the group know he was in dire need of a kidney donor, more than a dozen members tested to see if they were a match.
One member, veteran Steve Hartington, was a perfect match, and is undergoing surgery at Duke University this Thursday to donate his kidney to Konrad.
“I just said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this, man? This is a big operation,’” Konrad remembered. “He said ‘I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.’”
Both transplant surgeries for Hartington and Konrad are set for this Thursday at Duke University Hospital.
“It means everything,” Konrad said. “He’s saving my life. To come out of nowhere, somebody I met in the group… we’re really not what you would call tight. Well, we are now. He’s my brother from another mother.”
Vets Helping Vets Anderson meets every Wednesday at 10 AM at the Elks Lodge in Anderson.