Joshua Surovey, a 30-year-old from Clarksville, Tennessee, has spent the past few years fighting for his life and looking for a glimmer of hope.
In 2010, he was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, and by 2012 his kidneys were failing. The condition was related to high blood pressure caused by obesity.
Relying on exhausting dialysis treatments, lasting twelve hours a day, and the impact on his life, Surovey didn’t give up.
“I just want to live … have life back instead of just being hooked up for 12 hours a day to a machine,” he told Clarksville Now in January 2016. “I just want to have a life, start a career, and start a family. Just have the life anybody my same age would.”
Surovey lost 206 pounds to improve his health, and by 2015 was eligible for a donation.
As Surovey got healthier, the search for a donor began. He created a Facebook page to find a donor, but when that only got him a few hits, he decided to go old school in his search.
“I was getting tired of it and I wanted to take a drastic change,” Surovey said. “It was time to get out there and make things happen.”
The plan: use some good old-fashioned advertising.
He started an ad campaign to find a donor!
Using money from a GoFundMe account, Surovey funded things like car decals, magnets, and even a billboard—all with his name and blood type.
As Surovey and his family and friends spread the ads, and Surovey’s face was plastered all over Riverside Drive, and word spread about his search for a kidney.
“It’s going viral,” Surovey told the Leaf Chronicle. “It’s heartwarming; it really is.”
While he had dozens of responses from interested strangers, they all fell through or weren’t a match.
The search continued for years—but patience would eventually pay off.
Surovey continued to stay in shape. Recently, he visited Gold’s Gym for his workout. He still had the magnets on his car.
They were spotted by a fellow gym member, 33-year-old Renee Bruens. While she had never met Surovey, she took an interest and found him in the gym.
While she was apparently put off by his huge beard, she struck up a conversation with him—one that would change both of their lives.
“I finally reached out to him on Facebook and told him who I was, and what I was doing, and where I was at in the process, and then we talked at the gym for the first time,” Bruens told WSMV.
While they were total strangers, they connected immediately—and soon, Bruens made an incredible announcement:
She was a match, and would give Surovey her kidney!
Surovey was stunned—his long fight was finally coming to an end, thanks to the kindness of this new friend.
“We’ve been growing closer as friends and she’s the most awesome person I’ve ever met in my life,” Surovey told Clarksville Now.
The two set a transplant date for April 5, and the four-hour surgery was a complete success.
“Her kidney began working immediately, with no delay,” Surovey told the Leaf Chronicle. “The medical team was impressed at how well, healthy [and] strong Renee’s kidney was.”
“I don’t know whether to cry because of pain or because I’m happy, or both,” Bruens told Surovey when they were awake.
“I can’t express how grateful I am,” he told her.
“It’s been long and hard,” Surovey told the Leaf Chronicle. “Perseverance has paid off. Hard work and dedication, not only in the gym to qualify for a transplant, but also in my efforts of finding a living donor.”
But in exchange for her kidney, Bruens asked for one thing in return.
“So there’s an agreement that I have to shave to become more approachable,” Surovey told WSMV.
“We are going to meet someone for him,” said Bruens.
It’s the better life Surovey dreamed of, now possible thanks to his new friend—and maybe a few car magnets.