BOND FOR LIFE: Former classmates reunited nearly 50 years later by life-saving kidney donation

- Kenneth Walker and Charlie Ball were not close when they attended Archbishop Carroll High School. They both graduated in 1969, but nearly 50 years later, Walker's need for a kidney has brought them back together.

Walker is a lifelong journalist who was posted in South Africa for 20 years. His kidney issues began about five years ago when he got treatment for a misdiagnosis. He would need dialysis, which he first got in South Africa and continued in the District at Howard University Hospital.

Walker's kidneys were failing and he needed a transplant. A last-ditch effort to seek help on a high school class listserv turned out to be life-saving.

Ball got Walker's email and replied within 15 minutes that we would get tested. He was a match and began the 5-month process that climaxed with the transplant a week from Monday at George Washington University Hospital. The operation was a success.

"This is just a blessing beyond measure," said Walker.

Walker said he has a new outlook on life.

"I began to have a gradually increasing sense of wellbeing that became a sense of euphoria, and so I started to interrogate it and realized it might be as simple as having the first pain-free day in over a year," he said.

"It’s profound to be able to change someone’s life in such a positive way," said Ball.

Ball and Walker plan to continue their friendship and travel together on a future trip to South Africa.

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