Detective gets a second chance at life thanks to a high school friend

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - A St. Louis County Detective gets a second chance at life when an old high school friend gives him something only she could - a new kidney.

At 17-years-old, Danny Keim was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease called IGA Nephropathy which decreased his kidney function. He saw his doctor regularly for checkups but lived an otherwise normal life.

In August 2013, Keim's doctor at St. Louis University Hospital told him his kidneys were only functioning at 21 percent and it was time to consider transplant and dialysis.

"Reality hits that this is coming, and you better prepare for it," said Keim.

Luckily for Keim, he didn't have to face the battle alone. More than a dozen people came forward willing to donate a kidney. Unfortunately, none were a match.

While sharing his story on vacation last July, Vicki Meadows, a friend from high school who was unaware of Keim's condition - instantly offered to get tested.

"I really didn't have any doubt that this was going to be a good thing," said Meadows. "Even from the start, I was pretty sure this was going to work out."

Over the next six months, Meadows traveled from her home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to SLU Hospital for extensive tests to see if she was a match. Still, Keim said he couldn't get his hopes up too high.

"Through that whole process, it's an emotional roller-coaster," he said. "Bottom line is, they're giving up one of their organs, and at any point through that process they can decline and say 'I've changed my mind.'"

Meadows did not change her mind, and on January 7, 2015, she donated a kidney to Keim.

"It is one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do in your life," she said.

According to Tracee Trice, Abdominal Transplant Coordinator RN at SLU Hospital, there are minimal risks for living donors and there are major benefits for recipients of living organs since a living donor kidney can last up to 20 years whereas a kidney from a cadaver donor may last up to 10 years.

For more information about transplant services at SLU hospital: http://slutransplant.com/

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