True friend shares the gift of life

Definition of a true friend Jack Kuhlman, of Monroeville. He's not just giving a helping hand to Jim Kimberlin, of Bellevue. Kuhlman is giving Kimberlin the gift of life Jan. 18 when one of Kuhlman's kidneys will be transplanted into Kimberlin.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010


Definition of a true friend Jack Kuhlman, of Monroeville.

He's not just giving a helping hand to Jim Kimberlin, of Bellevue. Kuhlman is giving Kimberlin the gift of life Jan. 18 when one of Kuhlman's kidneys will be transplanted into Kimberlin.

Kimberlin, 42, and Kuhlman, 39, met 11 years ago when they both started work at CertainTeed in Avery. They became friends as well as co-workers.

After an industrial accident in 1994, Kimberlin discovered he suffered from polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder that runs in his family. It causes kidneys to develop cysts and eventually shut down.

Once a healthy kidney is transplanted, the recipient can live a normal, healthy life with the help of anti-rejection medication.

Kimberlin's mother, Linda Johnston, received a kidney transplant from a cadaver more than five years ago and her brother got a kidney from his wife three years ago. Kimberlin's brother, who died in an automobile accident several years ago, and Johnston's other siblings also were diagnosed with the disease.

"They've been tracking it and thought I had a lot longer," Kimberlin said. "But for the past couple of years my function has been really down."

The Bellevue man is now on dialysis.

"I'm living now with no kidneys," he said.

They were removed in December because they were too diseased to function. Kimberlin spends four hours three times a week at the Firelands Dialysis Center in Sandusky.

Kimberlin said because his family has faced this disease before, his relatives knew a transplant would eventually be his only hope. They posted notices about organ donation by living donors and waited.

He was overcome when his good friend Kuhlman stepped up to the plate and offered his kidney. But Kuhlman didn't just come out and tell Kimberlin the news.

"Jack got tested, but I didn't know about it at the time," Kimberlin said. "He did that without anyone knowing."

"I didn't know how to tell him," Kuhlman said. "I kept it a secret from him because I didn't want him to get his hopes up until I knew for sure."

Kimberlin gives this account of Kuhlman's news when he walked up to Kimberlin at work one day last fall:

Kuhlman: "Hey, I've got to go to the Cleveland Clinic. Do you think you could give me a ride?"

Kimberlin: "Sure. Do you know what building you're going to?"

Kuhlman: "I don't. I've just got to give some guy my kidney."

"At first, it didn't hit me," Kimberlin said. "Jack said, 'Did you hear me?' I was just in shock."

Kimberlin still gets choked up when he talks about that day.

"It is very rare that someone outside your family will donate," he said. His family can't donate because of the genetic component of the disease.

"Words can't describe it; they really can't," Kimberlin said.

"We worked side by side for about a year and it was when he was really becoming sick," Kuhlman said. "He wasn't feeling right and was too proud to tell anybody."

When the news came out, Kuhlman added, he realized how desperately sick his friend was.

Kuhlman has a simple explanation for his decision.

"He's a friend," he said. "He was in need of it and I just felt that his family needed him more than I needed a second kidney."

Kimberlin and his wife, Beth, are the parents of Noah, 25, and Megan, 19, a freshman at Lake Erie College. Their youngest son, Jamie, 15, is a freshman at Bellevue High School.

Kuhlman said his large family supports his decision.

"Their main concern was whether something would happen to me," he said.

Kuhlman is the father of Ashley, 18, Gage, 16, and Kylee, 11. His girlfriend, Kerrie Davis, 37, and her son Logan, 12, live with him. Kuhlman also has 10 brothers and sisters.

The two families are now working together to support both men.

Peggy White, Kuhlman's sister, of Norwalk, said her siblings are proud of his decision.

* * *


A rigatoni benefit for Jim Kimberlin, of Bellevue, and Jack Kuhlman, of Monroeville, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Sandusky Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2529, 604 W. Perkins Ave., Sandusky. The event will feature live music, a bake sale, raffles, 50/50 drawings, a silent auction and a cash bar.

Tickets will be $7 for adults, $5 for students and free for children aged 5 and under. Raffle tickets for a one-night stay at Kalahari will be $5 each or three for $10.

Carry-out meals are available.

VFW 2529, Sandusky Fastpitch Association and USW Local 5-0363 are co-sponsoring the event.


pitterpat (Anon...

Does this suprise me that Jack would donate a kidney for a friend---NO. I have known the Kuhlman family, as their babysitter,and as their friend. Their kindness, and love of people is a family trait. God Bless you Jack, may you and Mr. Kimberlin know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. To the rest of the Kuhlman family, and their famil;ies, what a cheering section!!! I am so proud of each of you.

Paul McKenzie (...

I knew Jack in high school. Some things always stay the same: he is as solid now as he was then. Bravo Jack!

Nice to see (An...

a good story in the paper about a person helping someone else out instead of thinking of themselves!

to them (Anonymous)

Best wishes to all concerned. Great story Reflector.

great human int...

I'm looking forward to reading that the surgery is a complete success and that both men have a full recovery. Wishing only the best for the two of you!

jimmy's mom (An...

We are humbled by Jack's generosity, and at the same time blessed. It is certainly an answer to prayer. May we all lift Jimmy and Jack up in our prayers on January 18, as well as the medical staff who will perform the surgery.

I look forward to meeting Jack on Saturday. He is now a son to me. After all, his kidney's in the family! Jack is one awesome dude!

simplysweet52 (...

Great story, what a wonderful human being!

Best of luck to...

This is such a great story. Very heartwarming. I wish you both the best of luck and a speedy recovery.

hey Jack (Anonymous)

ash him wah he want,

You are a great man!!!!


ps. you remember, Steve wah you!!!!

to Jack (Anonymous)

I remember working with you years were always a pretty special guy, and you still are! Best of luck to you both!

Dave Rimmer, Li...

What a heart warming story as Mr Kuhlman puts his own life on the line for a friend. Mr Kuhlman, I do not know you but I wish you and your friend all the best for the future and I would hope that I had the same courage should the situation arise

Good luck and best wishes to you both from across the pond

Does anyone kno...

the benefit went for these two? Maybe someone will hold one over towards monroeville-bellevue??

pope ottomus......

i used to work with jack, years ago at a local pizza place!! he is alot of fun, and he really is a great guy... but, back then, i couldn't get him to give me a can of pepsi. and now he is giving someone a kidney?? whats up with that?? just kidding you jack, i am very proud of you, and i think that your mom, and your brother, mike, are very proud of you... i know that you make me proud, to consider you a friend.. best of luck to you both..

Imagine that .....

swiss family thinks someone is there friend. Guess Jack really is a good guy to put up with swiss.

A Marine Mom (A...

While I was growing up my Mom was friends with their Mom and I had the privilege of spending alot of time @ their house. You could look the world over and never find a nicer family than the Kuhlman's. All of you kids should be as proud of yourselves as I am sure your Mom is of you.


to swiss ottopu...

maybe jack had work ethics and didn't want to take a chance on getting fired by giving YOU a can of pepsi...ever think of that?

pope ottomus......

i didn't want jack to steal anything, but here's a concept.. he could have BOUGHTme a soda....duuuuuuhhhh!!!

re: pope ottopu...

jack knew better...that's all. don't see YOU giving the gift of life on here, swiss...just calling people dorothy, that the best ya got? dorothy? lololololol

china and monke...

We have always known that somewhere behind that big macho tough man exterior there is a very caring,loving and sensitive boy/man. Wish we spent more time together. We are so very proud of you,as is the rest of the family. Mom would also be very proud and is surely smiling down on you. We are truly blessed and honored to call you brother. Hard to believe you could actually bring us to tears with your generosity. We love you and are praying for you and Jim every step of the way.

Otto (Anonymous)

This is really a great story, I have no Idea why it not up there in the Number one slot!!

bjb (Anonymous)

work with jack for 11 years and i could never get him to buy me a coffie and now he gives up a kidney go figure

Q (Anonymous)

no reason to fret over a cup of coffee or a soda..both are bad for you. and your life surely didnt/doesnt depend on whether you get that beverage or not. Jack is giving the gift of life my friend. At least Jim, the Kimberlin family and the Kuhlman family are thankful and greatful.

Old Friend (Ano...

You are one of a kind "Chinka" Jack! I always new that! I wish you both a speedy recovery!

China & Monkey ...

Jack we are so proud of u! Surgery was today and it seems to have been sucessful...jack was in the recovery room groggy but still telling those jokes and smiling!!!....Welcome to our family Jim!! They both now have one PINK kidney each!! we are praying now for a speedy recovery for both!!! hope 2 hear from u soon Momma J!