Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Man donates kidney to high school classmate, 50 years after graduation

There was no hesitation — when Charlie Ball heard that his old high school classmate Kenneth Walker needed a kidney, he volunteered to donate if a match.

Ball and Walker both graduated from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., in 1969, and while they weren't friends, Ball recognized Walker's name when he saw an email from him in his inbox. Walker, a journalist, learned when he returned to the United States from South Africa 18 months ago that he needed a kidney transplant, and tried everything to find a match. A high school friend suggested he send an email to their old classmates, and Walker figured it was worth a shot; in his email, he wrote that he completely understood if no one felt comfortable being a donor, and he was happy to at least spread awareness regarding organ donation.

Ball responded within 15 minutes with his offer. Doctors told him they usually don't accept donors over 60, but because he's in good shape, it wouldn't be an issue, and after a battery of tests, it was determined he was a match. This week, Ball and Walker underwent surgery at George Washington University Hospital, with Walker — who called this an "example of humanity" — eternally grateful for the gift of life. "I'm giving him a piece of my body," Ball told WJLA. "It's simple enough. God gave me two, I don't have to wonder why."