Former Gopher linebacker donates kidney to former teammate on dialysis

At a tailgate birthday party on Saturday ahead of his 50th birthday on Monday, former Gopher Football linebacker Michael "Doobie" Kurus is an example of what's possible through living organ donation.

Six years ago, at M Fairview Hospital, Kurus donated a kidney to his former teammate at the University of Minnesota: former captain and defensive tackle Ed Hawthrone.

"I couldn’t have asked for a better person to save my life," Hawthrone said on Saturday.

"The guy goes 150 miles an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Hawthorne continued. "If there was an eighth day, he’d do that 24 hours [too], he’s just an all-around good guy… he’s always been a giver, he’s always helping, he always goes above and beyond with anything he does."

Kurus donated his kidney to Hawthorne when Hawthorne was on dialysis and most in need; giving Hawthorne a second chance at life as well as energy to devote to spending time with his family.

"It’s tough, it’s draining on your body," Hawthorne explained. "Once the kidney started to kick in, I felt 100% better."

"He had over 100 people put their names in to consider for donation and for one reason or another they all got rejected," Kurus added. He says he stepped up because he wanted to encourage others to follow suit.

"Be open to the idea of kidney donation," Kurus encouraged. "A lot of people think it has to be like your firstborn child, your spouse, your mother, [it doesn’t]."

For more information on living kidney donation, go to the National Kidney Foundation.