- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) - John Guerra can’t wait to go camping with his family this summer without worrying about dialysis. Thanks to Eric Gillins, Guerra will be able to do just that.

Gillins will donate a kidney to Guerra next month. Only knowing each other through church, Gillins heard a few years ago that Guerra needed a kidney. After much thought and consideration and knowing that if he were in his situation, he would want someone to help him, Gillins decided to get tested and was a match.

Gillins, 39, of Hobart, said he wondered, if something happened to him, what would happen to his three daughters?

“I want to help John and make it possible for him to have a better life,” Gillins told The Times in Munster (http://bit.ly/1inUH3Y ). “This is a second chance at life for John. I just can’t sit back and do nothing. It is against what I believe in.”

Both men have a strong faith, which is what brought them together at Portage Church of Christ. Gillins said he heard an announcement one day that Guerra needed the kidney.

Guerra’s health problems started in 2008 when he found out he had kidney cancer and lost his right kidney. A year later, the cancer spread, making him lose the left one.

After starting dialysis, they found spots on his lungs, but they were benign. In 2011, an infection from dialysis damaged his heart, requiring open-heart surgery. In August, he will be five years cancer free, which is significant because the doctors wanted him to wait that long to get a new kidney.

He was placed on the donor list a few years ago, then an announcement was made at his church.

“I was completely surprised when Eric approached me and told me he wanted to donate his kidney,” Guerra said. “How awesome is that? He told me it was just something he had thought about.”

Guerra and his wife, Staci, live in Highland with their five children. He said he is eager to do more with his children.

“I’ve had my share of pity parties, but my whole mental state has changed now with what Eric is doing,” said Guerra. “I don’t want to waste his sacrifice. We are part of a serving church and we are told to love one another, and that is what we are doing.”

Guerra and Gillins will go into surgery in June.

“He is making such a huge sacrifice,” Guerra said. “After this surgery, not only will we be Christian brothers, but blood brothers, as well.”

An account to help with medical expenses has been set up by Gillins at gofundme.com.

John’s insurance has to cover both surgeries, and he’s facing a big bill,” said Gillins. “More than $5,000 has been raised so far and this will help him and his family.”

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