Family friend donates kidney to Knoxville man

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Jeremy Tinsley, 33, has just gotten another clean bill of health after his latest lab work at UT Medical Center.

Just a few short years ago, Tinsley was worried he wouldn’t be around for his wife and their two kids, or at the very least, would be too ill to enjoy every moment with them.

Kidney failure due to interstitial nephritis, or kidney scarring, had taken its toll.

“It was time to get on a donor list with the UT transplant team and get ready for transplant,” recalled Tinsley.

Brittany Michaels, a local second grade teacher, quickly stepped up to see if she would be a match.

Michaels and Tinsley are longtime family friends.

“One thing led after another and six months in, (I was told) ‘You’re a viable candidate, you can donate a kidney.’ And it was kinda like, oh, wow!”

The transplant was a success.

These days Michaels enjoys sending text messages to Tinsley, asking if he’s taking care of her kidney.

He has to remind her, it’s his kidney now.

“We have a quirky fun relationship and it’s definitely formed a bond between us,” Tinsley says.

Michaels has always been active. She played basketball in high school and is now a middle school coach. She functions just fine with one kidney.

It’s a gift Tinsley is grateful for every day.

“She gave me, honestly, a chance to go back and be a dad, a husband, and play with my little boy and raise my little girl and do all the things we take for granted in everyday life. She’s an amazing person,” said Tinsley.

The East Tennessee Kidney Foundation’s Lucky Kidney Walk and Run is Saturday, March 14, starting at 9 a.m. at Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville.More online:East Tennessee Kidney Foundation

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