Father receives dead son's life saving kidney

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Early Tuesday morning, Luther Davis followed the body of his son Nathan into the operating room at University of Tennessee Medical Center.

They were wheeled into a life saving surgery, after a life ending accident left 23-year-old Nathan brain dead.

Luther was in desperate need of a kidney, and his son was a perfect match.

Just before the surgery, Luther told WVLT News, "Yea, it's comforting that I know, everywhere I go, he's going. We don't have him here, but we know where he's at," said David.

The transplant happened in the early morning hours after an honor walk celebrated the gift that Nathan was able to provide for his father.

“After the first hour of operation, we were told that the kidney was already beginning to function. The next update we got was when the surgeon, Dr. Grandas, came to tell us that the surgery had been a success and that the kidney was doing its job. The procedure had been completed in very little over two hours, and Luther, with his little piece of Nathan, was in recovery. We knew that Luther was okay, by the grace of God, and we are so overwhelmingly grateful, in the face of this tragedy, for all of God's mercies and miracles shining through the darkness," said Gabriela Davis, daughter of Luther Davis and sister of Nathan Davis.

Nathan was always intrigued by the opportunity to sign an organ donor card and his father suggest that after this tragedy, everyone think about that opportunity too.

"I'd really like to tell people, if you're not a donor, become a donor. If you're children are starting to drive, let them know there's an option to sign that card. Hopefully they'll never have to use it, but if something happens and they do, that way the family doesn't have to make a decision, it's already made. The other families, keeping their loved ones longer because of them" Davis said.

After suffering traumatic brain injuries from a car accident Tuesday near Maynardville, Nathan died Sunday morning at UT Medical Center.

"At five minutes after ten, his daddy and his sissy and I soothed him the best we could," said Nathan's mother Julia. "We let him know that it was okay if he stayed, he stayed in love. But if he went, he went into love."

What he wasn't able to do in life, though, Nathan is now able to give after his passing by providing his father with a life saving kidney.

"This is a really unique story. You don’t see this very often. It’s a great example of direct donation," said Brent Hannah, Administrative Director for the Center for Transplant Services at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. “He’s going to be able to give the gift of life to his father with his passing."

"He is officially dead. But that body, that fearfully and wonderfully made body, is keeping those organs alive with a lot of assistance, but those organs are going to find new homes in the morning, and one of them is coming back home," Julia said. "This ensures that Luther is going to have the opportunity to be with us a good while longer, and that's beautiful. It's a gift like no other."

UT Medical Center said Nathan's heart, liver, and other kidney will also be donated.

Luther Davis wanted people to remember his son as a good person.

"A giving, loving, friendly to everyone, never met a stranger, didn't judge them for their beliefs or whatever they may have that doesn't necessarily agree with society. It didn't matter, he loved all of them," Davis said.