SALISBURY, NC (WBTV/CBS News) - A Rowan County pastor's act of generosity may have ended up saving his own life.
Pastor Tim Jones decided to donate his kidney to help a man he met at a church fundraiser last fall who needed a transplant. Don Herbert, a former professional wrestler turned gospel singer, was suffering from kidney failure and desperately needed a donor.
"I wanted to give him a chance at life, I wanted to give him hope," Jones told the station. "I prayed for peace with it and a couple of days later God gave me peace. I told my wife we're going to do this."
He got tested and turned out to be a match for Herbert. After a series of preliminary tests and procedures, the transplant was finally scheduled at Duke University Medical Center.
Herbert got his new kidney.
"The difference is night and day from the way I felt then and the energy that I have now is remarkable in just a week," Herbert told WBTV.
But the operation did more than save Herbert's life -- it may have saved Jones' as well.When doctors opened him up, they made a surprising discovery. Jones told WBTV on Wednesday that his surgery took six hours -- twice as long as expected -- because "they found an aneurysm in one of my arteries." It hadn't shown up in any of the preoperative tests.
An aneurysm forms when a weakened portion of an artery wall starts to bulge, and if it ruptures it can cause life-threatening internal bleeding. According to CBS News, the Mayo Clinic explains this can happen in any artery in the body, including the renal artery leading to the kidney.
Jones, who also works as a surgical technologist in addition to leading his church, was very aware of the risk.
"God used the story to save both our lives," Jones told WBTV. "If I hadn't listened to God's voice to give my kidney, I might not have been here much longer if it had ruptured."
Jones has had some complications since the surgery and had to go back to the hospital for several days. He is back home in Salisbury now, and even though he's in a great deal of pain, he has no regrets.
"It's a slow road to recovery for me, but it's worth it. If I had to do it all over again I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat," Jones told WBTV. "God had a plan here when he showed me what I needed to do. It's a matter of we say that we have faith, but do we really have faith? I exercised my faith when He said give the kidney, and I didn't base giving my kidney on knowing that I'd have an aneurysm or any of that. I gave my kidney because I had a brother in need and I knew that I could change his life and maybe in the middle of all of it hopefully give a good testimony to my Savior for what he had done for me and how he's blessed me in my life, and that was the purpose of me doing it, to be a witness and a testimony."
Herbert feels blessed as well.
"Nobody wants to help anybody anymore, at least you think, but I'm glad that there are still some people that are willing to help," he told WBTV. "I want to be alive, and with what he's done for me and giving me the new kidney I have that, I have a new lease on life."
More than 101,000 Americans are currently waiting for kidney transplants, the National Kidney Foundation reports, and fewer than 17,000 actually get a donor each year.