Virginia Priest Donates Kidney to Save Life of Parishioner



Bruce McComb says he owes his life to his pastor, Father Jonathan Goertz of St. Timothy Parish in Tappahannock.

His statement, voiced in strong admiration, is not far from the truth.

Mr. McComb, 60, was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. He had been on dialysis for three and a half years and had retired at age 54 because of kidney disease. He previously had received a kidney from his wife, Mimi, in 2002 which was deemed to be a match, but his body later rejected it when he developed sepsis after what he called “a botched hernia surgery.”

In the meanwhile, Father Goertz, 31, had explored the possibility of donating a kidney to someone who needed one and was the right match.

“I had already looked into being a donor before this,” he told The Catholic Virginian.

After contacting the National Kidney Registry, he was told he would have to undergo some testing.

“They wanted a doctor to do a few basic tests to see if I could be an eligible donor to anybody,” Father Goertz said, adding that the likelihood of finding someone who would be compatible with his kidney was good. In March he went for tests at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.

“They told me ‘Once we put you into the system, there are 100,000 Americans who are on the waiting list and you are going to match with somebody,’” the priest said.

He had learned of Mr. McComb’s need for a kidney and wanted to help him if possible.

“It always strikes me when I meet somebody who has any kind of need — physical, spiritual or emotional — is it possible that I could be the person who can respond to this need,” Father Goertz said.

He then spoke to Mr. McComb after Mass on Palm Sunday expressing his wish to help him.

“I’d just gone to MCV to see if I could be a donor at all,” Father Goertz said. “I came back and told Bruce that ‘I’m an eligible donor and I’d like to see if I can give a kidney to you.’”

 Read what happened. 

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