CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — After Paul Stouse learned he had renal kidney failure a friend stepped up as a living organ donor.

Stouse’s transplant story starts out a little different than many. “Stubbed my toe and went to emergency care. They did an evaluation and said I had a situation with my kidney,” he said.

After several tests, Stouse learned he was experiencing renal kidney failure. Paul evaluated his diet and paid close attention to his health in an effort to stay off dialysis.

Stouse said at one point they wanted to put preparations in place for dialysis, “I didn’t make that appointment. That was just my feeling, and I didn’t know anything about his gift, or options, or what he was pursuing.”

Meanwhile, Paul’s friend and co-worker, Dan Leggitt, was taking the first steps to become a living donor. He kept it a secret through the beginning tests because he didn’t want to get Paul’s hopes up. Six months after learning of his condition, Paul received the gift of life.

A gift, now ten years in the making, that Paul can only describe as, “Phenomenal. Just phenomenal. You don’t know how to react to it.”

A gift Dan said came from the heart, “It just felt like the right thing to do. I guess I didn’t question myself. It was in my heart to be done.”

A gift that keeps on giving.

“After the procedure, my sister-in-law, thought a lot of the situation and a lot of what Dan did and she donated to someone in very much need,” Stouse said.  

Paul’s message to those waiting on a lifesaving transplant is, “Never underestimate anybody. Just keep looking. Just keep looking.”

Dan’s message to those considering living organ donation is, “Don’t be scared of it. It does good for your heart. Just step up. You’ve got an extra one, why not.”

Dan and Paul both credit their positive outcome and experience to their doctors and staff at IU Health and encourage others to consider living donations.