In 2018, Vietnam Veteran Billy Konrad told the Independent Mail that his kidneys were failing. Members of Vets Helping Vets Anderson, South Carolina tried to donate to the 71-year-old Konrad but weren’t able to for various reasons.
Steven Hartington, 62, read that article—which started him on a journey to donating one of his kidneys to Konrad.
“Thirty years ago, I almost ended my life because I didn’t want to be here,” Hartington said. “God kept me around and for the past 30 years, I wondered what that reason was … And then Billy came along.”
The testing and matching process took nearly a year. The surgery happened Oct. 3 at Duke University Hospital.
Hartington, who is an Army, National Guard, and Navy veteran, jokes that now, with his new kidney, Konrad has now been in four different branches of the military.
Konrad is a Marine veteran. Hartington also gave Konrad an engraved shadow box with a folded flag in it that had flown near the hospital where they both had their surgery.
The main issue with Konrad receiving his donation was his age. Konrad and wife Bonnie were losing hope and looking into Hospice care options.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Konrad said about being healthy and having a fully functioning kidney. “Wow. A clean bill of health.”
Before the kidney surgery, Hartington and Konrad had known of each other and would chat at meetings, but they were never that close. That all changed after the kidney donation. Now, Konrad calls Hartington his “brother from another mother.”