PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The bond fraternity brothers share is not for four years, but for life.
“He’s changed my life,” Ott Quarles said.
In 1973, Michael Klimkos chose Quarles to be his little brother when he joined Theta Chi fraternity at Clarion, never dreaming 46 years later, he would save his life.
“He saw on Facebook that I had put on there that I needed a kidney,” Quarles said.
The two lost touch after college and only recently reconnected.
“I told him that the way he could help is pass the word. I need a kidney. And he said ‘no, how do I become a donor,’” Quarles said.
Their fraternal bond never went away.
“For one thing, he plays Santa Claus, and how do you say no to Santa Claus? And our fraternity motto was ‘extend a helping hand,” so,” Michael Klimkos said.
“I can tell you the first words out of his mouth when he woke up after the donation was ‘how did Ott do?’ said Dr. Amit Tevar, Transplant Surgeon and Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplants at UPMC Montefiore.
After the successful transplant Tuesday, other brothers showed up at UPMC Montefiore Wednesday for a Theta Chi reunion.
“I haven’t seen them guys either for 40-some years. When they came in, it was just like old days,” Quarles said.
“Here in the hospital, they put these bracelets on us that say ‘fall risk.’ Well, we should have been wearing these back then when we were at Clarion,” Klimkos said.
“We were close back then, but we were the fraternity brothers back then. Now I feel like I’ve actually gained a brother,” Quarles said.
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Through the process, their wives have also formed a special bond.
“We’ve become sisters,” Susie Klimkos said.
They met for the first time the day after Christmas.
“They saved our life. You go to dialysis three days a week, four hours a day. You don’t have a life with your husband. I was losing my husband. They saved my husband. That’s all I can say,” Judy Quarles said.
Now, Ott will be able to return to his full-time job working for Cranberry Township, and next Christmas, he’ll be healthier than ever when he puts on the red suit.
“So when you meet Ott, you can’t help but, he looks exactly like Santa and he might really be Santa. I’m not sure yet. But my son was, for the first time ever, he was impressed at what I do because I operated on Santa,” Dr. Tevar said.