Pools Unite As Friends Forever, Bonded By Life-Saving Kidney Transplant

A remarkable story of friendship and generosity has emerged from the world of pool tournaments. James Harris Jr. of Glen Burnie, Maryland, and Russ Redhead of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, were once fierce competitors in a high-stakes American Poolplayers Association tournament. Harris emerged as the winner, earning a trip to Las Vegas, but their rivalry took a surprising turn when Redhead publicly criticized Harris on Facebook. However, when mutual friends came to Harris’ defense, Redhead took down the post and apologized.

Over the years, their bond grew as they continued to participate in pool tournaments together. In 2020, Harris, who had been battling kidney disease, received the devastating news that he had complete renal failure after contracting COVID-19. He was placed on the transplant waiting list at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), with the understanding that the wait could be years. His wife, Denise Epps-Harris, volunteered to be his donor but was not eligible. To find a potential donor, Denise shared her husband’s story on Facebook, leading to a surprising offer from Redhead.

In November 2022, Redhead offered to donate his kidney to Harris after learning about his health issues. After undergoing testing, it was confirmed that Redhead was a perfect match for Harris. On February 8, 2024, they underwent a successful kidney transplant at UMMC. One month after the procedure, Dr. Richard Ugarte, who oversaw Harris’ care, reported that Harris was recovering well and progressing as expected. Redhead reflected on his decision, stating that it was the right thing to do, as someone needed his kidney to save their life. This heartwarming story showcases the power of friendship and selflessness.

Transplant News
Transplant News

Transplant News brings you the news and content that matters to the transplant community. From patient stories, to the latest in transplant innovation, Transplant News is your window into the world of transplantation.