Jarrett Jivan and Chris Maybroda have been friends for over 30 years, meeting when they were classmates in elementary school in Winnipeg and staying in touch even after Jivan moved away to Ontario.

Jivan has always been active, becoming an avid runner who loved to train for marathons. But in early 2016, he knew something was wrong when he noticed he didn’t have the strength to even walk down the street.

Jivan’s doctor told him in February of that year that something was wrong with his kidneys. Then, in April, his condition rapidly worsened.

“On April 1, I went into the doctor and I kind of surprised the nursing student there because my blood pressure was so high… Within about 12 days, on my 43rd birthday, I was diagnosed with not only kidney disease, but end-stage renal failure,” he told CTV Calgary by internet call from his home in Burlington, Ont.

Jivan began using dialysis to take over the work of his ailing kidneys. But a year later, even that was no longer enough, with his kidneys functioning at only 3 per cent capacity. He needed a kidney transplant, and fast.

“It was shocking because it came on so fast,” he recalls, “and you start telling your family and friends first.”

Thanks to social media, Jivan was able to get the word out that he needed to find a kidney donor. Several people offered to help. One of them was Maybroda.

“I looked at my wife and said, ‘Of course I’m donating if I can, or getting tested.’ And she said, ‘Of course you are’,” Maybroda recalled.

He ended up being a perfect match. So in January, Maybroda travelled to Ontario where Jivan lives, and underwent a six-hour procedure to donate his kidney. He says it was the least he could do.

“People like my grandfather fought in wars to protect people he didn’t even know,” he explained, his voice filled with emotion. “Certainly, I can step up and donate to a guy I’ve known for 35 years.”

Jivan says he is eternally thankful to his friend.

“You can’t repay something like that. It’s just the generosity of Chris is amazing. He never thought twice about it,” he said.

“It means so much in terms of medical freedom for me, to live a normal life again.”

Jivan encourages everyone to fill out and sign their organ donation cards.

“That’s very important in terms of having enough donors out there to meet the needs. Right now, across Canada, I think there are 4,800 people on the waiting list for organ transplant and 80 percent of those are for kidneys and there just isn’t enough supply out there.”

With a report from CTV Calgary’s Ina Sidhu