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Defying extraordinary odds for second chance at life

What’s the probability of two people who aren’t related …

• having the second-rarest blood type?
• working together at the same company?
• being an exact match for a living donor kidney transplant?

Off the charts.

Quincy Elliott, a regional sales director in Seattle, battled polycystic kidney disease since he was 17. It’s is an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop within the kidneys.
Last year, Elliott received the diagnosis he dreaded most – the disease had progressed to Stage 4 kidney failure and he was potentially staring death in the face.

Justin Wear, market sales manager in Boise, Idaho, had worked with Elliott for six years. When he heard the news, he reassured Elliott that kidney transplants, especially from a living donor with a matching blood type, were an option. The possibility of the man he’d thought of as a mentor – and a brother – potentially dying gnawed at him. The next day, he casually gave a blood donation just to learn his blood type. It was a match.

During their time working on the same team, Elliott had given Wear personal advice that led him to a new path in life. Once Wear learned their blood types matched, he knew his decision. He wanted to give Elliott a chance at life.

The next conversation Wear and Elliott had wasn’t about market sales data – Wear was offering a kidney. “You can’t” was Elliott’s immediate response, but Wear made a convincing argument and the two waded the myriad of emotions, medical testing, insurance questions and other procedures.

“We have the ability as people to do great things,” Wear said. “A lot of people say, ‘What would I do in that situation?’ Or, ‘How would I respond?’ Respond the way your heart tells you to.”

We have the ability as people to do great things. A lot of people say, ‘What would I do in that situation?’ Or, ‘How would I respond?’ Respond the way your heart tells you to.”
— Justin Wear, market sales manager, Boise, Idaho

Just before Christmas, the two men checked into a Seattle medial center renowned for transplant surgery. A three-hour procedure removed Justin Wear’s kidney. Five hours later, it was functioning inside of Quincy Elliott.

In early January, Wear returned to work. Elliott is recuperating and looking forward to getting back to work once he’s fully recovered. “I feel like I have been given a gift that I can never repay. I feel grateful,” Elliott said. “I feel appreciative that I can go home to my kids.”