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Pastor Donates Kidney to Church Member

james slick jack abbott
Pictured: Pastor James Slick (right), who donated a kidney to friend and church member Jack Abbott (left); screengrab via WSBTV

While most pastors are no stranger to their local hospitals, where they often visit to encourage church members who are experiencing ailing health, James Slick took his pastoral care to another level last year. When his friend Jack Abbott was suffering from kidney failure, Slick, associate pastor of worship at Summit Baptist Church in Acworth, Georgia, stepped in to donate one of his own. 

Both Abbott and Slick are avid runners and have run alongside one another in a number of races. Abbott even served as the course director for the Peachtree Road Race until 2019.

However, Abbott has for years suffered from a kidney condition, which worsened following a bout of COVID-19 that landed him in the hospital for two weeks, one of which was spent in the ICU.

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“I was on a list, but so were many, many other people,” Abbott said. “The kidney function was down to 5%, which was, you know, hardly doing anything.”

Abbott’s previous kidney function was roughly 20%. 

“In January 2021, [Abbott] suffered an episode that was relating to his health and COVID that resulted in the worsening of his kidney function from an acute illness,” explained Dr. Clark Kensinger, a multi-organ transplant surgeon.

The amount of time a patient can stay on the waitlist for a kidney donor in Georgia is upwards of four to eight years, depending on the patient’s blood type, according to WSBTV. However, Abbott was running out of time. 

Explaining what led to his decision to donate his kidney to Abbott, Slick said, “As one of his pastors, I was curious about where his health was and how he was doing.”

After Abbott informed Slick of the severity of his condition, Slick determined that donating a kidney to his friend and fellow church member was simply “what I needed to do.” 

“Then, I asked him his blood type,” Slick said. “I don’t know why I asked that question. It’s not something I routinely ask people. It turned out we’re both Type O negative.”

“So he says, ‘I’ve got two kidneys. I’ll give you one of mine,’” Abbott recounted. Describing his reaction in that moment, Abbott told The Christian Index that his emotions were “somewhere between numb and shock…I still can’t really wrap my mind around it.”

Admittedly nervous about the procedure, Slick said, “I think the biggest question for me was, what is this going to do to me? You know, what’s going to happen?” 

Despite his fears, Slick began a journey to quite literally give of himself to restore Abbott’s health. 

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“I just felt like God was speaking to my heart, saying this is someone who I can help,” Slick said.