When James Ingley found out his twin brother Dalton needed a kidney transplant, he didn’t think twice before stepping in to donate his.
“It was the most important thing I had to do,” James, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, told TODAY. “I felt like if I had the chance, I would do whatever I could.”
The pair of identical twins have always had an unbreakable bond. They’d switch places in class to play jokes on their teachers as kids and they always call each other simultaneously.
His brother received alarming news
Dalton was in his mid-twenties when he went into an annual physical exam for work and found out his blood pressure was through the roof.
At nearly 200/180, it was considered an emergency.
“They rushed me to the hospital … for stroke-like conditions,” Dalton, now 29, of Greenville, Pennsylvania, said. “They told me, ‘Well it looks like you have a kidney issue.’”
Dalton couldn’t believe what he was hearing because he felt absolutely fine.
I was like, “How can I be in kidney failure? I’m not sick,’” he said. “At the time it was like a shock. How is this happening to me, a 26-year-old?”
It turned out that Dalton had glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the kidney’s filters. Luckily, the condition is not inherited in most cases, but it is a leading cause of kidney failure.
Despite being very sick, his kidneys continued to work well until he started home dialysis in April 2017.
The treatment helped for nearly a year until he fell sick with pneumonia and changed to hemodialysis. Dalton had to quit his job and doctors told him that he needed a kidney transplant.
There was no second thought
When he brought it up with his brother James, who was an obvious potential candidate, there was zero hesitation.
I don’t think I ever really did ask him to donate. He automatically said yes.Dalton to Today
James was ready to do whatever it took to help him and to qualify as a donor, he was told he would have to lose weight.
At 299 pounds, he worked as a traveling manager for a hotel which meant he spent long days on the road and relied heavily on fast food.
“I would be in my car or an airplane six days of the week so that’s not really (great) for your health,” James said.
He lost the weight without anyone’s help
Motivated to make some changes, he was offered dietician services through the hospital, but James decided to go about it on his own.
To start, he took on a different job and switched to being an on-site hotel manager, so he travelled less. Then, he started eliminating sugary drinks from his diet and before he knew it, he was starting to notice and feel the effects.
“My whole life sort of just changed,” he said.
James added more fruits and vegetables to his diet and started taking small steps to be more active, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
I was able to exercise more consistently when I was placed at a local hotel.
He was amazed at how much his sleep improved since he stopped traveling for work.
“I was getting normal sleep time,” he said. “I would go to bed around 9 or 10 at night wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning.”
All of his efforts paid off and he was able to lose 60 pounds before the date of the transplant.
“The fact that I needed to donate a kidney made it so I’ve been able just to change,” said James.
The successful surgery took place in May 2018 and Dalton has been thriving ever since. “I’m feeling great,” said Dalton.
An inspiring lesson
James feels happy and proud that he could help his brother, while making healthier life choices for himself.
“It’s a chance, an opportunity to do something for your fellow man, person, stranger, neighbor, family member and I think I did what everyone else would have done,” said James. “There’s nothing more special and rewarding.”
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