'Hero' guardsman donates kidney to his battle buddy

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Spc. John Chase (left) undergoes dialysis treatment at the Aurora Dialysis Clinic in Grand Forks, N.D., in September as Sgt. Francisco Raatz looks on. Both members of the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery, Raatz donated a kidney to Chase // Army photo

 

When Spc. John Chase needed a kidney, the one he received was practically stamped with an ACU pattern.

It’s all in this cool story from army.mil, the house organ — get it? — about how Chase recieved a kidney from Sgt. Francisco Raatz, a fellow North Dakota National Guardsman and his battle buddy.

“Sgt. Raatz is just like my brother, it feels like,” Chase said.

Their bond was forged on combat deployments to Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, which was on a dangerous personnel security mission the first time they deployed together.

When Chase was on leave from a second deployment to Afghanistan, in May of last year, he was taken to the emergency room in his hometown of Grand Forks and diagnosed with kidney failure. He was not going back.

Chase’s battle buddies followed his treatment from the ‘stan. Hours of exhausting dialysis three times a week and a restrictive diet couldn’t repress Chase’s sense of humor.

Several guardsmen up the chain of command offered Chase a kidney, including Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Sveum, Jr.

Raatz, the first one to be tested, was a match.

Turns out, they’re the same type of soldier to boot, the kind who would do anything for a fellow soldier, relatives said.

Chase once took in guardsman who was homeless, his wife said. And, well, Raatz  gave away his kidney.

“When you’re deployed together like he was with John and a lot of other guys and gals, that becomes like your second family overseas,” said Raatz’s mom, Terri. “You help each other out, especially when you get back, because you’re friends for life when you deploy together.”

The transplant surgery was Sept. 27.

You’ll have to read the piece, but it gets a little sticky for these guys. There were incisions, medications and a painful recovery–but it all turned out alright in the end.

Raatz’s mom said her son is her hero, and not just because he’s her son.

“I think everybody that sacrifices something for somebody else, I think that (makes them) a hero,” she said. “For me, I never knew what heroes look like. For me, he’s my hero.”

[Army.mil via @Wayne_Hall]

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