JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After waiting more than six years for a kidney transplant, Eddie Farhat has finally found a donor and is living with working, healthy kidneys.
First Coast News discovered Farhat in November 2019 when viewers started to call into the station about Farhat using his car as a moving billboard.
After six years on a waitlist, Farhat felt desperate and ordered a large decal with his phone number on it that read, “In need of a kidney. Blood type B+.”
Ultimately, it wasn’t the decal that got Farhat a donor, but First Coast News’ story with Farhat and a nudge from the donor’s wife did.
Roger Higginbotham, who knew Farhat from work, saw Farhat’s family and friends reposting the story months after it aired.
Higginbotham said his wife Carol nudged him to be the donor after she donated a kidney herself in 2018.
Higginbotham said initially he was reluctant and not ready to take that step, but felt called to do so after the story was constantly on his newsfeed.
“It kept popping back up on my feed,” Higginbotham said. “So finally, I just told my wife Carol, I just need to go get tested just to see. Because something is pulling me towards this.”
Higginbotham got tested and made a surprise call to Farhat.
“He called and said he was going to Mayo,” Farhat said. “I asked, ‘are you okay?’ He said, ‘I’ve been going to get tested for you to see if I was a match.’”
Doctors told Higginbotham he was a perfect match.
“I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry,” Farhat said.
Higginbotham decided to donate in honor of his brother Gene, who died of chronic kidney disease in 1979.
The men scheduled the surgery for Aug. 25.
The surgery was successful. Farhat said when he woke up from surgery he was so excited and walked right over to Higginbotham’s room.
“It was pretty cool we could see each other right after,” Higginbotham said.
Farhat couldn’t leave Jacksonville for more than six years in case a kidney would become available. Now, he’s looking forward to doing the things he loves once again.
“Now I’m living life really to the fullest,” Farhat said. “The first thing I would really like to do is go somewhere and go fishing.”
Both men praise the kidney transplant team at Mayo, saying they didn’t only make the process easy during the pandemic, but comfortable and safe.
Both men encourage everyone this holiday season to go get tested and see if you can save a life.
“It’s not all about the money or the presents,” Farhat said. “That’s the gift of life.”