S.C. dad gets second chance at life thanks to police officer’s kidney donation

Updated: Oct. 29, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Greenville father and a Clemson Police officer rang a bell together at MUSC Charleston’s Transplant Center, marking the completion of a successful kidney donation.

“I never thought about kidney donation,” Clemson Police officer Zachary Yasin said. “I didn’t even know it was a thing, honestly."

But then Yasin said he saw a magnet on the back of a truck with a picture of Thomas Banks, his daughter, Isabelle and son, Boardman. Banks has been on an urgent search for a kidney.

“I’ve got two kids, 10 and 7, and I was just trying to stay active as I can for them,” Banks said. “I mean, they’re little balls of energy, so that was important to me that they didn’t see me bedridden and not doing anything.”

A photo of the magnet, snapped by Yasin’s girlfriend when she was stopped at a red light, inspired him to see if he could be a match for a man he had never meant.

“Somehow we ended up being a match and I was just shocked really. The next thing you know, I’m taking out a kidney,” Yasin said.

After 10 years of living with kidney disease, and a year and a half of hooking up to a dialysis machine every night before returning to work as a construction project manager, 42-year-old Banks learned his sign had been seen and the call had been answered by a 24-year-old Upstate Army veteran and Clemson Police officer.

Thomas Banks, second from left, a father of two from Greenville, received a kidney from Clemson...
Thomas Banks, second from left, a father of two from Greenville, received a kidney from Clemson Police officer Zachary Yasin, second from right, at MUSC Charleston's Transplant Center.(WYFF)

“It was exciting to know I was getting a kidney to know that someone just randomly decided to donate was pretty amazing,” Banks said. “When I was his age, something like this was not even on my radar.”

A surprise solution from a stranger means Banks can soon go camping with his kids again.

“I wish I had more kidneys to give out,” Yasin said.

Last year, more than 1,000 people in the state of South Carolina were on the Medical University of South Carolina’s waiting list for a kidney. According to MUSC Health, more than 93,000 people are on the national kidney transplant waiting list.

“It was exciting to know I was getting a kidney. To know that somebody just randomly decided to donate was…pretty amazing,” Banks said. “My wife says I never really felt sorry for myself. I guess she never saw me feel sorry for myself. But I kept working – didn’t want to take disability or anything like that. So I kept working my job in construction, I mean, it just sorta seemed normal to keep doing things like that.”

He’ll hold onto the dialysis machine for a few months just in case, but now, thanks to Yasin, Banks doesn’t have to worry about hooking up to a machine overnight before heading to work, or before spending quality time with his kids.

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