Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s “Evolved Man of the Week” profile. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved person, famous and non-famous individuals alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the Director of Volunteer Services at Atrium Health, father and all-around good dude, Chris Perez.
A single father in North Carolina with a rare kidney disease found a fast and powerful friendship with his donor — a complete stranger. Steve Sanders, 46, has long suffered from an uncommon genetic condition called uromodulin kidney disease (UKD) that would eventually require daily dialysis treatments.
The father of two desperately searched for a kidney through a website he created and social media platforms. After searching for a donor for a year and a half, Sanders found a perfect match in Chris Perez, 40.
That’s how Chris Perez, director of volunteer services at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, learned about Sanders’ story. After reading the post and finding out Sanders had two children, Perez, a father of three, felt compelled to help.
“I didn’t know him but thought, let’s give this a try — I would want someone to do this for me.”
After a series of tests, the Atrium Health transplant team determined Chris’ kidney to be a match. Soon after learning this and before the surgeries, Steve arranged to meet the stranger who would literally be offering him a second chance at a normal life.
“I was nervous, but I got his number and texted him,” says Steve. “Luckily, we hit it off right away.”
Chris and Steve learned quickly just how much they had in common. They shared similar educational backgrounds, had a compatible sense of humor, and took pride in being a father. Their friendship grew from there, and they began to spend time together with both of their families leading up to the surgeries. Since Sanders’ surgery, which took place in January, the two men have spoken daily, according to a news release from Atrium Health.
This is a remarkable story of how a significant act of kindness can quite literally save a life. At the Evolving Man Project, we wish both Steve Sanders and Chris Perez good health and a long life with their families. Today we honor Chris Perez as our Evolved Man of the Week.