Oldham County bus driver donates kidney to sick co-worker
For 30 years, Oldham County bus driver Jimmy Barnett fought chronic kidney disease. He spent years waiting for a new one -- until another bus driver stepped up.
If best friends do anything for each other, Jimmy Barnett and Nancy Pesko are a living example.
They're both bus drivers for Crestwood Elementary in Oldham County. It's how their friendship started six years ago.
"We'll start working at a quarter after 6 in the morning, and we won't get done until 5," Pesko said. "So there's days where I will see him longer than I will see my husband or my own kids."
"We're different in a lot of ways, but it's just one of those friendships that just kinda grew out of nowhere," Barnett added.
But despite their differences, the two friends share the same blood type. The conversation came up when Barnett was on the verge of total kidney failure.
"My brothers and sisters, all of them tried to donate, and they weren't successful," Barnett said. "I happened to mention it to Nancy one day, and she said right off the bat, 'I'm gonna donate you a kidney.'"
"He needed one," Pesko said. "Why not? You have two."
After years of waiting and months of testing, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center agreed to perform the transplant last month.
"It means the world," Barnett said. "You just can't put it into words."
All smiles from the hospital bed, Barnett knows he got a priceless gift. But for Nancy, the life-saving gesture is no big deal.
"You have two. You can share one," she said. "(Jimmy) just became a grandfather for the first time in March and just had another one last weekend. He needs to be around a while for the kids.
"I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
Pesko will be back to work after winter break. Barnett expects to be driving a bus again in a couple of months.
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