With 100,000 Americans awaiting a kidney transplant, finding an organ donor can be a long and arduous process. A close match is hard to find among family members, much less your friends and neighbors. But according to Nissan Stories, one company employee suffering from kidney failure found his match at the office, and if that's not coincidence enough, it happened to be his best friend.
Josh Bredeson, a dealer technician at Landers McClarty Nissan in Huntsville, Alabama, assumed he had the flu in 2017. But a visit to urgent care revealed a far more serious condition – he was suffering from kidney failure at the age of 39. Even after his diagnosis, he won the US portion of the 2018 Nissan International Service Technical Excellence Contest (NISTEC), making him the top-ranked dealer tech in the country. That honor led Bredeson to a promotion in 2021, working in the dealer technical support center at the Nissan Smyrna Manufacturing Plant in nearby Smyrna, Tennessee.
By sheer coincidence, Bredeson’s best friend Josh Shaffer also works as a data analyst at the Smyrna plant, which once produced the 720 pickup and currently builds the popular Rogue and Pathfinder. Shaffer assumed that role shortly after Bredeson’s promotion.
But although the new desk job was less physically demanding than his former position as a dealer tech, Bredeson’s disease continued to progress. By March 2022, his kidneys were functioning at 20 percent, and he was added to the transplant list. Folks in his circle wanted to see if they were a match, with eight close friends and family submitting a blood test in the first month.
Among those was Shaffer, who joined a shortlist of people who could be a potential match. He and the other possible donors spent several hours at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, completing ultrasounds, X-rays, a CT scan, an EKG, and a four-hour blood draw, the results of which would rank them as a potential match for Bredeson. Three months later, the process was complete, and Shaffer was the best candidate to donate a kidney. He agreed immediately.
The two arrived to the Vanderbilt Medical Center on January 4, 2023, for the life-saving surgery. Shaffer went first so that one of his kidneys could be removed and prepped, with Bredeson following for the organ transplant two hours later. Both operations went well, and two days after the surgery, Shaffer went home. Bredeson followed suit a day later.
The transplant was a success. At the six-month mark – a significant milestone for both donors and recipients – Shaffer was doing well, and Bredeson’s kidney function was up to 70 percent with no signs of rejection or damage. The two are using their experience to bring light to the estimated 37 million Americans with kidney disease, 90 percent of whom may not know they have it.
"Hopefully, this is a story for somebody who may be suffering but doesn't know why," Bredeson said. "Maybe this will inspire somebody to get checked or to become a donor."