ND Guard member donates kidney to fellow soldier

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Two members of the North Dakota National Guard have shared not only duty in Afghanistan, but also a kidney.

When Spc. John Chase's kidneys shut down, Sgt. Francisco "Cisco" Raatz donated one to his friend.

Chase was on leave early last year when he became ill while vacationing with his family at Disneyland. Once he returned to Grand Forks, his doctor found that his kidneys had shut down, the Grand Forks Herald and Fargo Forum reported (http://bit.ly/uLp4ft).

Chase started kidney dialysis to cleanse his blood of impurities, but then learned his kidneys had failed because they had been targeted by antibodies. After a year and a half, the antibodies had run their course and Chase was eligible for a kidney transplant.

Raatz, 29, still on duty in Afghanistan with a unit of military police, learned that his friend was in need of a donor kidney. When he learned his blood type made him a potential donor, he decided he would be tested after he got back home to see if he was a match.

Raatz was a match and decided to donate a kidney.

"It wasn't really a very hard decision at all," Raatz said at a Friday press conference. "It was an opportunity to help a good friend of mine."

Chase, 43, said he was moved by his friend's willingness to undergo major surgery and give up a kidney.

"By a miracle, he happened to be the one who matched," Chase said. "It worked out nice."

The two men had surgery Sept. 27 at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo so Raatz could donate one of his kidneys to Chase.

Both men have recuperated from the surgery, and Raatz is back at work as a transportation security officer. Chase is hoping a medical review board will allow him to stay in the National Guard.

"I love what I do," Chase said. "It's very important to me.

At Friday's press conference, the two men talked about the bonds that can develop between soldiers.

"You really get close to each other," Chase said.

Information from, Grand Forks Herald: http://www.grandforksherald.com/


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