Jupiter police officer donates kidney to retired deputy
If there was ever an officer who lives every day by the oath he took, it’s Guy Kitchens.
"On or off duty, I'd run into an active shooter, you know, and try to stop and save lives, so this was just a different form of it," Kitchens said.
The 39- year-old has worn a badge with the Jupiter Police Department for nine years and never thought something he read last year could change his life this year.
"Something kept coming up in my head," he said. "It was one of those things where, for some reason, it was like the only email ever to constantly replay in my head over and over."
The words were simple. Someone was in danger, pleading for life. The only difference this time was Kitchens didn't need his uniform or firearm.
"To give the gift of life is the most beautiful gift you can give anybody," Jeff Cooper said.
Cooper, ironically, a retired Broward County deputy, was on the other end of that email. His days were numbered. His kidneys were failing and dialysis was crushing him.
"It's extremely depressing," Cooper said. "It's the not knowing that's really hard."
"In my life, if something was meant to be, God always flung the doors open and none of these were shut, so I was pretty sure I was supposed to do this," Kitchens said.
And he did. All the medical information added up. On Feb. 3, after six hours of surgery, Kitchens' kidney was pumping life into Cooper's body.
"He's my living angel, my little brother that I never had (but) I always wanted," Cooper said.
The two met for the first time after the wounds healed and something special happened immediately.
"I've got an inseparable bond with my donor and it's beautiful," Cooper said.
One organ for one life — a magnificent experience made even more humbling by the inspiration around it.
"One of my biggest motivations was I knew that Jeff has been going through pain, a lot of pain for a while," Kitchens said. "So, in my head, I'll go through a little bit of pain now and he can have the rest of his life."
Two men connected by the badge are now inseparable for life. All from the determination of one officer, the support of his department and a town that rallied around him.
"The main reason I became a cop is I wanted to change lives, especially, I wanted to save lives," Kitchens added.
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