PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Chris and Ma’ake Kemoeatu are no strangers to winning tough battles.
Ma’ake celebrated the 2013 world championship with the Baltimore Ravens, and his younger brother, Chris has two Super Bowl rings thanks to his stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But Chris’s failing kidney forced the Hawaiian natives to put their football careers on hold.
Ma’ake was a perfect donor match. So, he left the Ravens to help.
“Because I am the oldest of my younger siblings, and I have to lead by example and take care of my younger brothers,” Ma’ake said.
“It has definitely brought us closer as brothers,” adds Chris. “It’s really been a really humbling experience for me to see him make this huge sacrifice for me.”
But before doctors could do the kidney transplant, there was a setback. Tests found Chris needed heart surgery as well.
“I had to talk to him in football aspects. All right it’s fourth and long right now. We thought we were going to get the first down, but it’s fourth and long right now, we gotta go deep,” said Ma’ake. “And he threw for a first down and made it through the heart surgery and got in the end zone and did the kidney surgery.”
Not only was Ma’ake the perfect match medically, University of Maryland Medical Center doctors say the brothers, relatively comparable size, made the match even better, and the surgery went smoothly.
“I tell you, when that kidney came, I felt like somebody threw me a small football,” Dr. Stephen Bartlett, the transplant surgeon, said of its size.
Though no longer officially a Raven, Ma’ake says team management has been a huge support for the family throughout this tough ordeal.
“I didn’t get anything from the Steelers yet, but if they’re watching, I’m waiting for them to send me some,” Ma’ake said.
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