Pastor donates kidney to parishioner, running buddy

Jack Abbott was once an avid runner and served as the course director for the Peachtree Road Race until 2019.

Abbot’s pastor, James Slick, has run side-by-side with Abbott in a number of races.

But a little more than one year ago, they were in a different kind of race trying to finish a much different kind of finish line.

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Channel 2′s Cobb County Bureau Chief Michele Newell spoke to Abbott, who was on the waitlist for a kidney transplant for years, but contracting COVID-19 decreased his kidney function significantly from 20% to only 5%.

“My kidney function was down to 5%, which was hardly doing anything. I was on a list but, so were many other people,” said Abbott.

That’s when Slick started paying attention.

“As one of his pastors, I was curious about where his health was and how he was doing,” Slick said. After realizing how severe Abbott’s condition was, Slick decided to help. “I just felt like that’s what I needed to do,” Slick said.


“He says, ‘I got two kidneys. I’ll give you one of mine,” Abbott said.

As it turned out, their blood type was a perfect match.

“I think the biggest question for me was what is this going to do to me? What’s going to happen?” Slick said.

The two documented most of their process through pictures.

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“I’m just now hearing maybe in the last few months, ‘Jack, you’re looking pretty good.’ I’m finally hearing that after almost a year,” Abbot said.

“I’m an example of a person that can say you can do just fine with one kidney,” Slick said.

Abbott and Slick are back to doing what they love, crossing finish lines together.

Dr. Clark Kensinger, a multi-organ transplant surgeon with Piedmont Healthcare, said stories like Abbott and Slick’s inspire people to make similar sacrifices.

“When donors or potential donors bear these stories, it really makes an impact on being able to find as many patients as possible to come forward for you to potentially be a donor,” Kensinger said. “We are forever grateful for how much of a sacrifice they make to save another person’s life through kidney transplantation, so they are truly heroes”