Bryant man to receive kidney donation from best friend

Sarah Perry
Staff Writer

A Bryant man who was born with polycystic kidney disease is scheduled to receive a healthy kidney this week thanks to his best friend.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, polycystic kidney disease is a “genetic disorder that causes many fluid-filled cysts to grow in your kidneys.”

The disease reduces kidney function and may lead to kidney failure. It can also cause other complication, including high blood pressure, cysts in the liver and problems with blood vessels in the brain and heart.

Justin Powell said both of his kidneys were covered in cysts and about four to five times larger than a healthy kidney. The disease also caused him to have high blood pressure and other health issues. He has had to take high blood pressure medication since he was an infant, Powell said.

With his kidney function reducing, Powell began receiving dialysis treatment in January 2017 and in June 2018, Powell had surgery to remove both of his kidneys, as well as of his gallbladder and appendix.

Without his kidneys, Powell currently has to use a dialysis machine at home for 10 hours a day.

“I’m alive because of a machine,” Powell said.

That will all change soon, thanks to a donated kidney from his best friend.

Powell met Caleb Lambert at the church they both attended. At Bryant Church of Christ, they were in the same youth group and quickly built a strong faith and a great friendship.

With his kidney issues, Powell knew eventually he would need a transplant, but did not want his friends to go through pain and surgery for him.

“I don’t want you to go through that for me,” Powell told his friends and family, but that did stop them from stepping up to donate.
Lambert was originally the backup donor until the first donor backed out.

“I’ve known for a while that he would eventually need a kidney and I have always thought about whether or not I could bring myself to donate. When the time came, there was no doubt in my mind whether I could or not. You can’t just lose your best friend. I’m doing this out of pure love for my friend. I don’t care about attention or how good it makes me feel,” Lambert said.
He calls his kidney “a gift.”

“I have this gift of an extra kidney that I am able to donate, and that is an easy gift for someone to accept, essentially the gift of life. I just want everyone to know that there is always a gift of life waiting for them to accept and that is the gift of God’s loving grace,” Lambert added.

Throughout the entire process, Powell said he has tried to stay positive.

He expressed his gratitude for the family and friends who have been there for him along the way.

“Everyday I have phone calls, text message and Facebook messages (of support),” Powell explained.

He said he is “super thankful” for the people who have worked to make a difficult situation easier.

Family and friends have organized fundraisers and get-togethers.

From his experience, Powell hopes to start a nonprofit and raise awareness about the disease.