"Every time we go to church, I see the man who loved me enough to put his life in jeopardy to help me."

By Meghan Overdeep
January 26, 2018
Preacher donates kidney
Credit: Mitch Davis

A lot of people refer to their pastors as life savers, but when Richard Terry says it, he means it literally.

Three months ago, Mitch Davis, the preacher at Franklin Church of Christ in Franklin, Tennessee, went above and beyond for Terry, giving him the gift of life in the form of a new kidney.

"It's very emotional because I will carry a part of Mitch with me the rest of my life," Terry told The Tennessean. "To have someone you've only known six or seven years who is a part of your church do this for you is the most selfless thing."

Terry was 68 when he was diagnosed with stage four chronic kidney disease two years ago. A nurse of 40 years, he knew that going on the transplant list could be a gamble—some people wait 10 years for a new organ—but he gave it a shot.

To speed up the process, Terry posted on Facebook asking friends and family to get tested to see if any of them were a donor match. Of the three people who matched, Davis was the right fit.

"I was very quick on my decision," Davis, 49, recalled to The Tennessean. "I tested, and then the rest unfolded. In my mind, I am thinking, 'I am healthy,' and I was like, 'Let's make it work.'"

Davis, a former special education teacher who originally hails from Hawaii, has preached at Franklin Church of Christ for seven years. He says that loving his congregants like family is nothing new to him. "If it had been a complete stranger, I would have said yes," Davis told The Tennessean. "That's the way my mind works."

On October 19th, 20 families from Franklin Church of Christ gathered together in the waiting room at Nashville's St. Thomas West Hospital and prayed while the surgery unfolded.

"The morning after the surgery, I woke up, I know what it means now when someone says they feel like a new man," Terry said. "I can't tell you the difference I felt."

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It took Davis longer than expected to recover and in the end, he missed two whole months of work. During that time his congregants pulled together to take care of everything until Davis could return.

With a new lease on life, Terry has become an ambassador for Donate Life, a national nonprofit that promotes organ donation. "Every year 4,000 people are added to the waiting list to receive kidney," Terry told the paper. "It's a simple thing to do. It's one of the few things you can give while you're still alive. Every time we go to church, I see the man who loved me enough to put his life in jeopardy to help me."