BOND FOR LIFE: Former classmates reunited nearly 50 years later by life-saving kidney donation

Kenneth Walker and Charlie Ball were not close when they attended Archbishop Carroll High School. They both graduated in 1969, but nearly 50 years later, Walker's need for a kidney has brought them back together.

Walker is a lifelong journalist who was posted in South Africa for 20 years. His kidney issues began about five years ago when he got treatment for a misdiagnosis. He would need dialysis, which he first got in South Africa and continued in the District at Howard University Hospital.

Walker's kidneys were failing and he needed a transplant. A last-ditch effort to seek help on a high school class listserv turned out to be life-saving.

Ball got Walker's email and replied within 15 minutes that we would get tested. He was a match and began the 5-month process that climaxed with the transplant a week from Monday at George Washington University Hospital. The operation was a success.

"This is just a blessing beyond measure," said Walker.

Walker said he has a new outlook on life.

"I began to have a gradually increasing sense of wellbeing that became a sense of euphoria, and so I started to interrogate it and realized it might be as simple as having the first pain-free day in over a year," he said.

"It's profound to be able to change someone's life in such a positive way," said Ball.

Ball and Walker plan to continue their friendship and travel together on a future trip to South Africa.