STEVE INSKEEP, host:
We're going to hear the story of a very different kind of gift as we turn to StoryCorps. This oral history project gives families and friends a chance to talk with each other and we listen in on Friday mornings.
Luke Thiboutot and Ryan Conner were roommates while freshmen in college. They've stayed close and they're now on their thirties. Last year, their friendship took a remarkable turn and they stepped into a StoryCorps booth to explain why. Luke begins their story.
Mr. LUKE THIBOUTOT: The day I was diagnosed with kidney failure, you stayed late at the hospital. And that was the first time you offered to be the donor. And it's the one question I never asked you but the decision seemed really easy to you. And I was wondering if you could tell me about that.
Mr. RYAN CONNER: The decision at that time was made in haste in the sense that I didn't know much about renal failure or kidney transplants. However, I was the match. In fact, for me, the worst part was not the medical portion of it or the pain and suffering, or any of that stuff. It's the worry or the guilt that you carry in doing something that could really have a serious negative impact on your family.
Mr. THIBOUTOT: You know, I - we went through the whole process of the testing and stuff and I never had really sort of thanked you. It was towards the end, we were going for our last test and I said, you know, I want you to know how much I thank you for this. It's a big deal and you said, don't worry, we're going to get through it. I'd like to tell one story.
Mr. CONNER: Go.
Mr. THIBOUTOT: It's the moment that it really hit me, like, what we had done. You know, medically what we had done. We yanked a piece of you out of your body and put it into me. But we had been given Yankees-Red Sox tickets by a friend of ours as sort of a get-well gift. And we were at the Red Sox-Yankees game and we had to use the bathroom. And, you know, we're standing there and I start getting all philosophical and I realized that everything going on here is essentially the result of your kidneys.
It was no longer my body working. It was your body working. And I start to get like emotional and choked up. I sort of looked over you, you know, and your head's tilted back and your mouth was open and you're staring at the ceiling and - I have known you for 16 years and I know it's going to your head. You're sort of counting the beers. And you're counting…
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. THIBOUTOT: You're counting the number of beers you've had that day. You're calculating how many you should or should not have before the seventh inning when they close up. But, you know, I sort of had this epiphany of the magnitude and what we did. And again, you know, all along, you've sort of acted like this wasn't an enormous thing and you didn't then, either. It's hard to think about.
Mr. CONNER: I'm glad to have done it.
(Soundbite of music)
INSKEEP: Ryan Conner and Luke Thiboutot at StoryCorps in Boston. Their conversation and all StoryCorps recordings are archived at the Library of Congress. And you can learn how you can record an interview at npr.org.
This is NPR News.