Veteran receives kidney from fellow veteran thanks to Collegeville Bakery sign

Retired from the Air Force and fresh off the COVID pandemic, Craig Harris received horrible news two years ago.

"They saw creatinine levels were elevated and they said you have to see a nephrologist," Harris stated.

The life of the software specialist from Audubon was turned upside down. "I went to see a nephrologist. He said, ‘You are in Stage 4 kidney failure.’"

Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania told Harris he needed a kidney transplant to survive. So, he enlisted the help of his family and an unlikely source – his favorite pizza shop.

Anyone familiar with Collegeville Bakery and Pizzeria, knows about their famous sign.

"What we try to do is uplift, recognize, honor people with the sign," co-owner Steve Carcarey said.

For years, the signs changed daily along Ridge Pike, honoring local heroes, job promotions and local sports teams. And, one year ago, the sign went up asking the community for a kidney for Craig.

"It just popped up and saw U.S. Air Force and that caught my eye," kidney donor Morgan Slaughter said.

Slaughter, another former Air Force veteran and, a complete stranger, saw the sign in a Facebook post and reached out. "Just to say hit and to gauge who he was and what his need was."

Little did Craig know, behind the scenes, Morgan, a nurse herself, was getting tested at the University of Pennsylvania. She eventually donated her kidney as par of the Paired Organ Exchange program.

Six months ago, she had surgery to donate her healthy kidney to a woman in New York. But, now it was time to tell Craig he was getting his kidney.

"They had told him somebody was in the mix and I said, well, that somebody was me and it’s done," Morgan said.

Craig Harris and Morgan Slaughter. (Morgan Slaughter)

"I went to Penn for one of my checkups and they are like, ‘Hey, we want to let you know you have a living donor.’ And, I was like, ‘I do?’"

Craig had a successful transplant October 4th. Two days later, at Penn, he got to meet his hero, Morgan.

The moment wouldn’t have happened without the sign.

"I got a call a few weeks ago. Craig was still in the hospital and his wife called me and said, ‘You saved my husband’s life.’ Chills," Carcarey remarked.

Both Morgan and Craig are recovering and healthy. One year to the day the original sign went up, a new sign says, "Kidney recipient."