Former Washington football player donates kidney to brother during pandemic

First on FOX 5, we’re following up on a heart-warming story that we first brought you on Good Day DC back in March, when a former Washington Redskins player decided to donate a kidney to his brother. This surgery also took place during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some four months later, both tell FOX 5 they are healthy and their bond is even stronger. Daniel Morgan said on Tuesday he feels like “a new man.”

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Daniel Morgan is the younger brother of former Washington Redskins Wide Receiver Joshua Morgan. Both brothers are in their mid-30s and are about a year apart.  

Joshua Morgan played for Washington D.C. in 2012 and 2013. He also played on other teams but before entering the NFL, the D.C.-native was also a stand-out as a college athlete at Virginia Tech.

He attributes his success to his younger brother Daniel – who he says, had a natural talent for the sport.

“He definitely pushed me a lot. You know I tell everybody that, especially most of the coaches, they always said he was just the better player but I was just an athlete playing so he definitely pushed me,” said Joshua Morgan.

The Morgan brothers said they learned a few years ago that Daniel had Kidney Failure. Joshua told FOX 5 he was devastated watching his brother suffer through dialysis. He decided to get tested to see if he could be an organ donor match.

“I got to say I was actually just fighting back tears because I was just so happy and thankful and grateful that he became a match and he would test to become a match,” said Daniel Morgan, “…it was going to be a process and I knew I was eventually going to be over with. And like right now, I feel like a new man so it definitely was a blessing, the fact that he came through and he’s a life saver.”

When asked if they were concerned about undergoing the transplant under the COVID-19 pandemic, the brothers answered no. Joshua Morgan told FOX 5 he knew once he learned he was a match, that he was going to donate as soon as possible, COVID-19 or not.

The two did discuss how difficult it was to be apart from their family throughout such a serious surgery. No visitors were allowed and at one point the two said they had to be apart.

This was part of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s COVID-19 safety protocols. They also had to test before going in, but we’re told this was one of the few hospitals to continue transplants during the pandemic for those really in need.  

A spokesperson with MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Transplant Institute tells FOX 5 the institute performed more kidney transplants than any other hospital in the U.S. from March to May of this year: 115 organ transplants and 23 of them involved living donors.

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Dr. Mathew Cooper, Medstar Georgetown’s Director of Kidney & Pancreas Transplant said people die organ failure daily.

“In my field, in kidney transplant, about 25 people die on the waiting list just for a kidney transplant. That doesn’t account for the people that never made it to the waiting list. So in the Transplant Institute, we had to look at the risk benefit of continuing transplant in the face of the pandemic, or putting out the ‘Closed’ sign,” said Dr. Cooper.

For the brothers, the takeaway is about the importance of becoming a living donor and getting tested if you have loved ones impacted – or if you just want to donate.

Joshua Morgan raised the importance of just being selfless, especially now, in these hard times.

“I was just hoping that a lot of people understand that, you know, our life is not about us. You know God put us here to be a blessing onto other people,” said Morgan.

If you’re interested in becoming a donor, MedStar says click here: