CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When Eddie Zimmerman's girlfriend said over dinner, "Honey, we're the perfect match," he chuckled and said, "Of course Vicki, we've been together ten years now!" What Eddie didn't know was she was more than just a perfect LOVE match. She was, in fact, the perfect match to save his life!
Eddie's been a hero to me for a long time! But like you, I've always known him as Eddie Z, part of the awesome band "Charity Case". He's a guitar player and music director of "Charity Case".
The band started as a radio bit for Ace & TJ 14 years ago. Since then, they've raised and given out over ONE MILLION DOLLARS to terminally ill and chronically disabled children through their non-profit, Ace & TJ's Grin Kids.
But in all his giving back, suddenly, a few years ago, Eddie Z found himself in dire need. He was in Stage 5 renal failure. In plain English, Eddie Z's kidneys were shutting down… he was on dialysis… the clock was ticking. He and his longtime girlfriend, Vicki, had been searching for a donor.
He was having no luck and his health was going downhill fast. That's when Vicki secretly went about getting tested to see if she could save her love! After work one day Eddie came home and Vicki was sitting at the table and said, "I'm a match. I can give you my kidney!"
When I talked to Eddie he said he doesn't know a bigger hero than Vicki. She was willing to go through a procedure that is typically harder on the donor than the recipient. She was willing to give back to her man who has spent a so much of his life offering smiles and hope to others.
The transplant was in May of 2014, but Eddie Zimmerman was one in a million case. And it wasn't a good thing. Eddie had a reaction to medicine that caused Cyclosporine Toxicity. Basically the insides of his bones swelled. The pain was so unbearable doctors considered a medically induced coma.
Three months after his transplant, Eddie was in a wheelchair, unable to walk. That's when, after many doctors visits, they went to Duke University Hospital and met with Dr. Matt Ellis. "Everything changed that day. Once Duke got involved we saw a light where there was none before," Eddie told me.
This weekend, thanks to Vicki's kidney and the work of Dr. Ellis, Eddie Z will stand on stage again with "Charity Case" at the Hickory Metro Convention Center! He'll be wearing his signature hat and that big broad smile.
"When I booked this gig I was still in a wheelchair, now I can walk, you would never know anything had ever been wrong with me!"
Vicki's kidney is working beautifully Eddie says. "I'm the luckiest man on the planet. It's been a wild journey for sure! I wake up every day with a smile on my face and a heart full of gratitude," he told me.
You can join the fun at no charge for general admission or, be a hero, and purchase tickets that give you amazing access to the VIP pre-concert party.
Keep in mind, the band makes NO MONEY! All the money raised goes to make dreams come true for kids and their families who really could use something to smile about.