By CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) – Two former teachers and friends are now forever connected. In December, one changed the other’s life with the gift of a kidney.

(credit: CBS)

It is a tale of two Dans: Dan Wagner and Dan Warner. They taught together for a decade at the former University of Northern Colorado Laboratory School in Greeley.

(credit: Dan Wagner)

“We hit it off right off the bat,” said Warner.

“Right away, we did things together,” said Wagner.

CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Dan Wagner and Dan Warner. (credit: CBS)

And the friends quickly learned they had something troubling in common.

“My wife, Kim, and Dan had the same kidney disorder called polycystic kidney disease,” explained Wagner. “Eventually, the kidney fails to a point where you’re either on dialysis or you get a transplant.”

Wagner offered his kidney to his wife, but doctors decided Kim’s sister, Becky, was better suited to be a donor. Becky gave a kidney to a stranger triggering a chain that allowed Kim to get a kidney.

“After the transplant, it was a whole new person. I got my wife back,” said Wagner.

(credit: Dan Warner)

By then, Warner was a high school principal back in his native Rhode Island and on dialysis. In November 2017, the Dans met for lunch in Colorado.

“And Dan said he wanted to pay it forward,” said Warner.

“I said ‘Why don’t you take my kidney?’ And so he did,” said Wagner with a smile.

(credit: CBS)

The Dans were a match. Transplant surgery was Dec. 10, 2018, at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.

“I owe him my life moving forward,” said Warner.

“There’s probably no better gift a person can give I think. Felt good,” said Wagner.

Both Dans feel blessed. They are happy and healthy, hoping their story of a selfless donation encourages others to save a life.

Kathy Walsh


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