CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wilburn “Tripp” Gault, 36, from Kings Mountain took a deep breath in a hallway at Carolinas Medical Center Tuesday night before he was to meet the man who had donated the kidney that saved his life.
In a nearby room, Michael “Todd” Campbell, 45, from Mooresville was waiting.
It was Campbell’s kidney that was transplanted into Gault, bringing an end to Gault’s three years of dialysis and four years on a transplant waiting list.
When they finally met, there were just silent hugs at first. Then, Gault told Campbell what having a chance to live means to him.
“I couldn’t do anything at school with my kids. I mean, he’s opened all kinds of doors and I get to do all that and I can be with my family more. That’s the main thing,” he said.
Campbell said his father had kidney problems and he’s thought a lot about making a donation to someone in need, especially after hearing what had happened to the wife of a friend.
“His wife had received a kidney and to hear her story and how much of her life she got back...it really inspired me to finally go ahead and do it,” Campbell said.
After Campbell made the decision to donate a kidney, he had to tell his wife.
“I don’t remember exactly what I said,” recalled Michele Campbell, “but I remember then and now and all through this feeling very proud and pretty much in awe of him.”
Just 103 days after the successful transplant, Todd Campbell hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim. He said he wanted to set a goal for himself and prove to himself that he was really OK.
And Tripp Gault was back with his family.
“It means a lot. He saved my life,” he said.