Kevin Noyes makes us remember the true spirit of the holiday season

Derrick Knutson
Derrick Knutson

I met a man last week who was so humble about the extraordinary gift he gave that it made me remember what the spirit of the holiday season is really about: loving one another.

Kevin Noyes, a 1985 graduate of North Branch Area High School, gave his kidney last year to Marlin Ness, a retired NBAHS mathematics teacher who he had been close to since he and Ness’s son became friends in third grade.

Ness, suffering from polycystic kidney disease with no immediate family members who were good organ donor matches, didn’t ask Noyes for his kidney — he didn’t even ask Noyes to be tested to see if he was a match.

Noyes, seeing a friend in need, did what he thought he needed to do and got tested, found he was a match and offered his kidney to Ness.

He also lost weight so surgeons would agree to do the transplant.

Noyes probably doesn’t want all the attention he’s receiving for his selfless act, but I think he deserves to be commended.

He’s the type of person who makes life better — not just for Ness, but for all of us.

We hear so many stories of violence, greed and corruption on television, in newspapers and on the Internet, and it’s nice to hear of someone every once and a while who is just a good human being.

Even though Noyes is not biologically part of the Ness family, it’s easy to see the former math teacher and his wife Lois love him like a son.

When I asked Ness if he could put into words what Noyes’ donation meant to him, he got choked up and wasn’t really able to come up with a verbal answer.

But I saw the answer in his eyes, which were welling up with tears.

Noyes has hopefully given Ness at least another couple of decades to enjoy his retirement, and I think Ness feels like he’ll never be able to pay him back for that.

But I don’t think Noyes wants Ness to pay him back. The payment he’s receiving for his generous donation is knowing that his good friend is no longer suffering and can once again enjoy life.

So before you tear into presents on Christmas Day, take time to remember that there are people like Noyes in the world.

The thought of that makes me smile, as it hopefully does for those reading this column.

I think all of us could be a little more like Noyes — that doesn’t necessarily mean giving up an organ, but there are things we could do to be a little more selfless: go give blood, donate to a charity, volunteer your time somewhere. The possibilities are endless.

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