Friends forever: ‘His selflessness gave me my life back … I am forever indebted to him’

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RENTON, Wash. — A Renton man had spent the last several years struggling to find a match and a donor for the new kidney he needed to survive. And those years were not only difficult on him, but for his family, too.

“Sometimes your family is just who’s assigned to you in a way, but I feel like all along we were assigned to each other. We were supposed to end up in each other’s lives,” says Sarah Moore.

The Moore and the Smith families say they became one big family, after Joshua Moore gave Emmett Smith the gift of a lifetime.

We first introduced you to Emmett, Esther and their little girl back in March 2015. Emmett was very sick. Three years earlier, he’d been diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy, a disease that caused both of his kidneys to stop functioning.

Desperate but hopeful, Emmett and his wife took out 20 ads that ran on King County Metro buses. While the bus ads certainly were creative, they didn’t generate a match.

But along came Joshua Moore. He’d heard about Emmett’s story through the grapevine.

"I’d always thought about it in the back of my head. I thought somebody is going to do this. Somebody will step up. And after three years, I thought, well maybe it’s my time,” says Joshua.

After talking it over with his wife, Sarah, Joshua got tested and learned he was the match Emmett had been searching for. The two men met for the very first time in the hospital the day before the transplant surgery.

“I understood the recovery to be about three to four months and I bounced back at about two to three weeks. I had very minimal pain throughout and no complications after. For me, it was very restoring and a wonderful thing that I was able to give the gift of life without any repercussions,” says Joshua.

Recovery wasn’t as easy for Emmett.

“The first two or three months it was hell. It was bad. Mainly because of the medications and the immuno-suppressant that they give you. It really just messed with everything; my body, my mind,” says Emmett.

But one year later, he is stronger than ever. And so is the bond between these two families. They hope by sharing their story, they can inspire others to give the gift of life and consider becoming a living donor.

“I’m present. I’m here every day. His selflessness gave me my life back. And I know I’m not supposed to feel this way, but I am forever indebted to him,” says Emmett.

It’s been said you can choose your friends, but not your family. But really, who’s to say? Maybe you can choose your family.

“Too often we think it’s not going to be me. It’s not going to be me. And then things line up in life and then it is you,” says Joshua.

For the Smiths and the Moores, that choice begins and ends with Joshua’s decision to donate.

“I was supposed to do this and I was supposed to step up and be that person,” says Joshua.