God had a plan when Russ Reimer and Kyle Schmidt crossed paths.
"Kyle and I met at a lead instructor workshop at Brandon Fire College. We were both lead instructors at our rural fire departments. He was with the Beausejour fire department, and I was with the Steinbach Fire department," Russ explained. "We connected the best over a hose hold called the Steinbach minute man."
The pair now work not only for their rural stations but also for the Winnipeg Fire department.
In 2010, Kyle was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney disease. It progressively got worse, and by late 2020, he was in kidney failure.
"He started dialysis about a year and a half ago," said Reimer. "He ranged between 3-5% capacity."
After hearing that his friend was sick, Russ knew he had to do something.
"I barged into the hospital and said, Kyle Schmidt is sick, and I want to give him my kidney. Let's go get this done today," said Russ.
"It is rare for someone who is not directly related to come forward as a living donor. Secondly, to match each other would be virtually impossible," Russ explained. "However, Kyle and I didn't just match, we were a perfect match."
Russ left that meeting knowing that God was involved and that everything would be okay. The pair agreed to move forward, and the surgery took place on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
"I came out in quite a bit of pain from all this stuff in my system. Kyle, on the other hand, came out of surgery with a new kidney that now works," said Russ. "The life in his eyes, when he came into my room, I was so grateful I was chosen to do this."
Now a week post-op, Russ says he is feeling amazing, and he hopes that this gift of life will help draw Kyle closer to God.
"I want him to walk with Jesus. That's what I told him," said Russ. "I said, Jesus is giving you this kidney because he wants you in eternity, and that's it. It isn't about your physical life here. It's about you and your family believing in Jesus and becoming followers of him."
"To sit at home and have this rockstar recovery, it's just screaming God's hands are all over this in goodness and greatness."
Both men are now on the road to recovery. Russ is expected to return to his firefighting duties within 6-8 weeks, while Kyle's recovery will take longer, between 8-12 weeks. Kyle will remain on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life but hopes to return to his firefighting duties by the end of the year.