HOT SPRINGS — Last year Travis Jackson wasn’t sure where his life was going. His kidneys had failed.
The 35-year-old father of three young children was staying alive through six years of daily treatments, including dialysis. Jackson, executive pastor of the Church on the Rock in Texarkana, Texas, had the support of his church members and his family while he waited for a replacement kidney. And he prayed.
Around the same time Thomas Burchfield, 31, a member of Holy Cross Church in Sheridan, was preparing to become a kidney donor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center in Little Rock. He was to be an anonymous donor.
“We were a match,” Jackson said. “It was an answer to my prayers. Thomas said, ‘God told me to do it.’ I am so grateful to him,” he said, noting he is grateful to God and to Burchfield.
“I always wanted to be an organ donor. I wanted to do it because Christ suffered for us,” Burchfield said. “My suffering in surgery was nothing compared to Christ’s suffering on the cross.”
Burchfield is a unique individual because he donated an organ to a stranger. Normally organ donors are relatives or friends. April is National Donate Life Month to promote organ donors and to honor people, like Burchfield, who are live donors.
Burchfield has served as Holy Cross parish council chairman and vice chairman and oversees the parish cemetery. He is married to Alexis Burchfield, a youth counselor, and they are foster parents to a 1-year-old boy.
Burchfield said he told only his wife about becoming a donor and the surgery to remove his left kidney in May 2019.
“I didn’t tell my family until the day before the surgery,” he said.
Burchfield said he met Jackson accidentally when their paths crossed at UAMS. They have since become friends.
“I didn’t regret doing it at all,” Burchfield said. “I gave Travis a new life for him and his family. His quality of life has improved. He could have died.”
Jackson said that from his wheelchair he hugged Burchfield in the medical center hallway when he realized that Burchfield donated his kidney.
“God will bless him for this,” Jackson said. “God can tell when you do something from the heart.”
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