St. Johns teen gives the gift of life to boyhood friend

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ST. JOHNS -- One Valley family is spending their holiday in the hospital, but for a really great reason. Their son has just received a life-saving kidney transplant.

It was not your typical Christmas gift. When one teenage boy found out his childhood friend was suffering kidney failure, he was determined to help, and ended up saving his friend’s life.

Elijah Caine Bargo has been through a lot this past year. It was just last Christmas when, at 20 years old, he was diagnosed with kidney failure.

“My fear was I wouldn’t have him another Christmas,” his dad said.

But now that fear is gone. This Christmas, Eli got a new lease on life.

“There was a long period of waiting where we just kind of sat there and didn’t really know what to do,” Eli said. “And Jimmy just stepped forward.”

Jimmy Shreeve and Eli are childhood friends from St. Johns who go way back.

“Before we even liked girls and stuff,” Eli said. “Way back in the day!”

When Eli got diagnosed, something in Jimmy changed, too.

“It drove me nuts, seeing my friend -- someone who has been my friend for so long -- to just go from a bigger kind of guy that he was to just not being able to do anything at all and just always in the hospital,” Jimmy explained. “It literally broke my heart.”

Jimmy knew there was only one thing to do.

”I went in for my first appointment and found out that we are both the same blood type,” Jimmy said, “and then from that moment on I just knew everything was going to work out.”

The kidney transplant was on Wednesday at the Mayo Clinic. Now the boys are both recovering, closer than ever and both changed forever.

“It takes a definite kind of courage to stand up and do something like this,” Eli said.

“This really has been the greatest experience of my life,” Jimmy added.

Jimmy has already been released from the Mayo Clinic. Eli could go home as early as Saturday. Both boys say they look forward to getting back to their studies.