Chris Clark and George Salameh have certainly had their share of ups and downs together.
In 2003, Clark saw Salameh through his first kidney transplant from his mother. Just more than a decade later, Salameh was right by Clark's side when his wife, Patty Clark, suffered a brain aneurysm.
So when Salameh's kidney began failing last spring, it only seemed natural to Clark to try to donate one of his own.
Late last week, Salameh and Clark went in for their procedures, giving the longtime friends one more "up" to celebrate.
"Chris donating his kidney means me having a life again," said Salameh, 40 of Wood-Ridge.
"I had severe anemia along with many other side effects over the past year and now I don’t have to deal with these issues. I have three small children that I could not play with or take to the boardwalk from being so ill. Chris has given me the ability to now do what I could not have before."
The decision was a no-brainer for Clark.
"I want George to be around forever, he is a husband, father, son, cousin and so much more," said Clark of Paramus, 42, who met Salameh on an opposing basketball team 25 years ago in high school.
"But there's more to it than that. There are some things that happen in your life and you’re like, 'One day I’m going to do something for someone and take all the good things I’ve been given and pay it forward."
This was it.
When Clark was two weeks old, he was adopted by "the most perfect family in the world," he said. Thirteen years ago, he welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world. Then, in 2014 -- a week after celebrating Salameh's wedding -- his wife Patty suffered a brain aneurysm.
"The doctor told me to tell whoever I was texting to come to the hospital right away," Clark recalled.
That person was George -- and he did. Salameh was at the hospital with Clark every step of the way. Clark said he feels lucky to have a friend like Salameh, but even luckier to have the life that he does.
It only seemed natural to step up to the plate last week for his best friend.
"I joke around that he was the first up at bat," said Clark, a Bogota native. "Any type of donation is crazy and people thought I was nuts. But he was the first to come to the table and I truly felt it was the right move."
A move that would turn two friends into family.
"We have been as close as two friends could have been, but now we share a special bond," Salameh said. "We are brothers. We share the same blood. I know this means a great deal to Chris as this makes me his only blood sibling ."
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