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Retired soldier giving gift of life to kidney patient

Posted September 17, 2009
Updated September 19, 2009

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— Nate Forbis was born with just one kidney, and it's failing.

In need of a transplant, the 6-year-old is getting a new kidney from an unlikely match – Alan Brunnet, a 50-year-old retired soldier he didn't know.

No one in Nate's family qualified as a donor, and when Brunnet heard out about the boy's need, he had himself tested and was a match.

"He's a little boy that kind of gets your attention," Brunnet said. "You know he's supposed to be sick, but he's not acting like it."

Nate Forbis Retired soldier donates kidney to child

Looking at Nate, one sees a little boy with bright blue eyes and a funny grin – not a boy who gets 11 shots a week or knows his way around a hospital better than any 6-year-old should.

His kidney is only functioning at 8 percent.

"This is for Nate as much as it is for me, for what God has done for me," Brunnet said. "I'm just returning the favor."

Brunnet said he broke when he was 20. "Everybody always told me it was a miracle I was still alive," he said.

In his 30s, he fought in the first Gulf War , cheating death again, he said.

"God saved me for something," he added. "What does he want me to do?"

What Brunnet feels called to do now is see Nate fulfill his dream: to become a farmer and run combine and tractor like his father.

"I wanna see the little boy out on that tractor some day actually doing it by himself," Brunnet said. "I want to see that."

Marvin Lynne Maxwell, a member of Nate's church, has rallied the community to help pay for the transplant, scheduled for Nov. 10.

Maxwell has organized a fundraising dinner for the family on Oct. 2 at the Lumber Bridge Town Hall. Plates are $7 each.

Donations can also be made to the Lumber Bridge Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 520, Lumber Bridge, N.C. 28357. They must be designated to the church's benefit account.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 14,000 organ transplants were performed nationwide in 2008.

More than 6,200 of those organs came from living donors. In North Carolina, 115 people donated an organ; all were kidney transplants.

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  • concerncitizen Sep 18, 2009

    "Donations can also be made to the Lumber Bridge Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 520, Lumber Bridge, N.C. 28357. They must be designated to the church's benefit account." All you folks out their complaining that all Americans are not initialed to health insurance! Tell this little boy he can't be helped because............. WRAL these stories need to be in the national news so folks can see the really impact of not having any health-care insurance! People need to be shamed into looking at the real truth! While we struggle against false debate! Names calling! Kids are dieing in this country! It is shameful!l!!

  • jennmc Sep 18, 2009

    Living donation is a miracle. My husband was born with a similar condition to this child and had a transplant as a teenager.

    You will be amazed at how normal this child's life will be because of this man. This child will be all over the place within days of transplant.

    There is nothing more heartbreaking than not being a kidney match for someone you love.

    Anyone interested in donating can sign up for a donor swap program, where a loved one donates a kidney to someone else to allow their recipient to get one. Google the alliance for paired donation for more information.

  • Mom of two Sep 18, 2009

    This is the most unselfish thing i ever read. May God continue to bless him and I pray all works out for both.

  • froggie1214 Sep 18, 2009

    I would like to state for the record that Alan is not a stranger. He went to church with Nate and his son worked with the family. After Nate's mom and grandma both were tested to be a donor and turned down because of health reasons, Mr. Alan stepped up and began the testing process. We are very grateful to Mr. Alan. He is giving Nate a chance to be normal and lead a full life. It has been a long road, but we are thankful for every second of everyday that we have with him. Nate is a very strong child. He brings a smile to everyone's face. He is loved by his parents, brothers, grandparents, family, and friends. I hope that everyone understands that the gift of life is the best present ever. Never take it for granted. Being a donor saves many lives. All it takes is for you to let someone know or have it on your license. Thank you in advance for your time and support. It means alot from all of us.

  • garnertoy Sep 18, 2009

    what a guy

  • nandud Sep 17, 2009

    God Bless You, Alan Brunnet. Hope the transplant is successful. Will keep you both in my prayers.