Local News

Retired soldier giving gift of life to kidney patient

Posted September 17, 2009 6:25 p.m. EDT
Updated September 19, 2009 2:06 p.m. EDT

— 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."

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.