The March 25 Day of Giving at Rhode Island Hospital honors our health care heroes and the people they've helped.
As a two-time All-State Classical High School basketball player and current Central High School coach, Mike Reed is used to being active.
But in May 2007, he started experiencing symptoms that were only getting worse.
"I was having trouble catching my breath – just a feeling of malaise in my body,” Reed said during an interview with NBC 10 News.
"By the time I actually got in the emergency room, my kidneys were in complete failure,” he said.
Reed prepared for a transplant, as he found a living donor in David O'Connor, a referee he once worked with at Providence College.
“Dave’s unique and a very special guy,” Reed said. “He was just like, 'Whatever we gotta’ do.'"
But then Reed learned he had cancer on both kidneys.
"People with end-stage kidney disease are prone to develop cancer in the kidneys because the kidneys are chronically injured by the primary disease," said Dr. Paul Morrissey, who is the director of Rhode Island Hospital’s Transplant Division.
Now, the coach was in the fight of his life.
He had both kidneys removed.
"I rolled the dice -- take them all out and go with none, and just depend on dialysis,” Reed said.
For 39 months, he recovered from the surgery and made sure the cancer was gone.
"It was a long stretch, man," Reed said.
All the while, O’Connor was waiting in the wings.
"I didn't want him to change his mind," Reed said.
But he didn't and the transplant was a success, with Morrissey noting that Reed stayed in the hospital less than a week and “had beautiful kidney function afterward."
Morrissey also said there are about 1,000 people in the state on dialysis, with a quarter of them qualifying for a transplant and on a waiting list.
“The usual waiting time is about five years right now, so they have a long period on dialysis, unless they're fortunate like Michael was to have a living donor available," the doctor said.
Reed can't say enough about the transplant program at Rhode Island Hospital.
"It's like having a new family,” Reed said. “That's what I compare it to."
He also spoke about the importance of being an organ donor.
In September, he’ll celebrate 11 years of his new lease on life.
"You can change somebody's life or give them life back,” Reed said. “It's a precious thing."
Learn more at Lifespan.org.