Vietnam War veteran donates life-saving kidney to fellow US airman after reuniting nearly 50 years later

Two Vietnam veterans who reunited nearly 50 years after they served in the Air Force together now share more than war stories.

Doug Coffman donated a kidney to Jim McGee on Tuesday, just three months after they reunited since last seeing each other in 1971 at training in California, FOX5DC reported. The two U.S. airmen were catching up at a memorial service for a fellow Vietnam veteran when Coffman learned McGee needed a new kidney.

“We have not seen each other face-to-face until we met in Monterey [California] about three months ago, which was an excellent time," McGee told FOX5DC. "Doug, at that point, volunteered a kidney, and to me, it's the gift of life."

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McGee — a retired foreign service officer from Florida and former U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe and Madagascar — underwent dialysis three times per week while waiting for a new kidney. He added that he could’ve waited another three to five years if he didn’t reconnect with Coffman.

"Our blood and tissue type match is good," Coffman said. "And to me, it just is living proof that we're all part of one human family. The chances of our match — I don't know what the odds were, but we beat them."

Coffman and McGee were admitted MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and underwent the operation on Tuesday. The surgeon said Coffman, 70, had kidneys “like a 35-year-old.”

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McGee told FOX5DC that he’s grateful for the kidney transplant.

"It means that I can continue the things that I'm so passionate about trying to move ahead," McGee said, about the operation. "One of the things that I'm most passionate about right now is making certain that everyone understands that there's a national crisis — 100,000 people are waiting for kidney transplants, another 15,000 for liver transplants.

“It's people like Doug who stepped forward and make the difference. That's the real story here today,” he said.