School custodian receives a kidney in the most unlikely way.


Who would you give a kidney to?

When most people think of who they would give a kidney to it’s usually their children, parents or other family members. How many really consider a co-worker, or in this case a longtime coworker and friend?

That’s just the case in the story of Ivan Graves, Custodian at Jessamine County high schools in Kentucky, who desperately needed one.  After all, he was suffering from kidney failure and had been on dialysis for roughly 5 years.

He continued on.

Certainly, it made work harder for him, but Ivan pushed through, working at different schools in the Jessamine school district. Even becoming the head custodian at Jessamine Career and Technical Center, but the responsibilities were too much for his health.

Mr. Graves returned to Jessamine County High school, the same school he attended in the 1970’s, to take on a lighter workload. There he ran into Marci Smith, Administrator and curriculum resource administrator for the school, The two had known each other for a decade at this point and Marci wanted to help Ivan.

After months of needing a new kidney and years on Dialysis, life had somehow brought Ivan exactly where he needed to be. Marci, an avid believer in organ transplants, always knew she wanted to one day help someone in his situation- and there he was.

After the transplant, Ivan Graves continued on being the hard worker he’s always been, with Marci as his hero. The two had always been friends but the experience has only brought them closer together.

As reported by WKYZ News’ own Garret Wymer

“I’ll never forget Ivan’s face when we found out we were a match,” Smith said. “And just the joy in his face, and the joy in his life that I’ve seen since. It’s unmatched. To be able to bring that upon somebody – yeah. It’s hard to even say how much that means to me and how blessed I feel.”

Now the two are closer than ever, ready for the surgery that will bring them even closer and give Graves a second chance.

“It’ll be the happiest day of my life besides when I got married and my kids was born. It’ll be like that. The happiest day of my life. Because I’m getting a new life,” Graves said. “I’m getting a normal life back. So that’s a blessing.”

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