Ashe native Jack Young, longest living kidney transplant recipient dies at 64
Last modified: Dec. 28
He had lived more than 42 years with a kidney borrowed from his sister, according to previous interviews with Young, and defied his doctor’s most optimistic expectations.
Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 29, at the Pleasant Home Baptist Church by Rev. Lonnie Carpenter. Burial will follow in Pleasant Home Baptist Church Cemetery by Rev. Bob Elledge.
The family will receive friends from 1 - 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 29, at Pleasant Home Baptist Church.
A celebration of Young's life will follow the burial in the church fellowship hall.
Young is survived by his wife, Cindy Young of West Jefferson, his mother Tootsie Young of Grassy Creek, his brother Jed Young of Grassy Creek, sisters Rachel Burgess of West Jefferson and Sharon Parsons of Grassy Creek, and several nieces and nephews.
In 1971, the High Country rallied around Young after he was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disorder that attacked his kidneys, while he was a student at Appalachian State University, according to a 2011 interview.
After more than 10 months battling depression and costly dialysis treatments, Young said the decision was made to try a risky, expensive kidney transplant.
But there was one problem - with bills to pay and maxed out health insurance, Young said he simply couldn’t afford the $20,000 necessary to go ahead with the operation.
“(It) was money I just didn’t have,” Young said.
With the help of Rev. Bill Ballou, and 580 WKSK’s Jan Caddell who did an on the air fundraiser to support Young’s transplant, the community response was immediate and overwhelming - by the end of the broadcast day more than $25,000 had been donated to offset the transplant costs.
"This was in 1971, when $100 was a lot of money," Caddell said in a previous interview.
ASU students later marched from Boone to Young’s hospital bedside at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem to raise funds for the costly anti-rejection drugs Young would need
following his surgery.
“People saw the banner they carried and threw money from their car window,” Young laughed, looking back at the march that was instrumental in getting him the essential post-operation drugs he needed.
Following the successful transplant, however, Young was only given three years to live by doctors, so he decided to make the most of it, he said, by traveling to Europe to study the following summer.
“I’ve been doing pretty much what I’ve wanted since,” Young said in 2011.
He later graduated with a masters degree in arts from Appalachian State University, and served as the Public Outreach Coordinator for the Ashe County Public Library for 18 years, he said, and taught art classes for a number of years at Wilkes Community College.
But even after more than four decades, Young said he could never repay the kindness of the community he said helped keep him alive.
“There are just so many people that helped me,” Young said. “I can’t thank them all enough. I want everyone to know how much it meant to me.”