As with most identical twins, Dalton and James Ingley share a bond that only brothers like them could have. Their growing up years were filled with lots of fun and silly memories, such as swapping places to trick their teachers.
Although they always had a close relationship, their connection reached a whole new level when they became adults and pursued their respective careers.
When Dalton was 25 years old and working for a local garbage removal service company, he went for the annual work physical required by his employer. That’s when doctors made a shocking discovery – his blood pressure was overboard at about 200 over 180.
“They rushed me to the hospital … for stroke-like conditions,” Dalton, now 29, told TODAY. “They told me, ‘Well it looks like you have a kidney issue.’”
This revelation confused him because he felt perfectly fine.
“I was like, “How can I be in kidney failure? I’m not sick,’” he recalled. “At the time it was like a shock. How is this happening to me, a 26-year-old?”
His doctor, Dr. Sundaram Hariharan, medical director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at UPMC, diagnosed him with an inflammation of the kidney’s filters called glomerulonephritis. It wasn’t a genetic condition, but it is one of the leading causes of kidney failure.
Dalton had Stage 3 kidney failure, but his kidneys worked well enough until April 2017, around the time when he started undergoing dialysis at home. Doing so helped him with his condition for almost a year until he became sick with pneumonia in January 2018. His treatment had to be switched to hemodialysis, which meant that a machine was acting as an artificial kidney to clean his blood.
He quit his job and doctors informed him that he needed a kidney transplant to save his life.
Dalton approached his identical twin to see if he would be a willing donor and of course, the answer was yes.
“I don’t think I ever really did ask him to donate,” Dalton said. “He automatically said yes.”
To James, there was no question about whether he would be willing to offer his kidney.
“It was the most important thing I had to do,” James told TODAY. “I felt like if I had the chance, I would do whatever I could.”
But before qualifying as a donor, James had to make drastic changes. At 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing 299 pounds, James had always been on the heavier side. The nature of his job as a traveling manager for a hotel involved entire days of sitting in the car, on flights, and in airports. He also often ate fast food. This lifestyle contributed to his weight gain.
“I would be in my car or an airplane six days of the week so that’s not really (great) for your health,” James said.
UPMC offered to connect James with a dietitian to help him lose weight, but he decided to do things his own way.
First, he switched careers and became an on-site hotel manager so he would spend less time traveling. Second, he changed his diet and stopped consuming sugary drinks. He also added more fruits and vegetables to his diet. After adopting a completely new lifestyle, James started seeing results.
The identical twin ended up losing 60 pounds before the surgery was scheduled!
“The fact that I needed to donate a kidney made it so I’ve been able just to change,” James said.
In May 2018, Dalton received a kidney transplant. The surgery was a success and the good thing was that he didn’t need any anti-rejection medication because his brother was a perfect match!
James and Dalton are doing well, and though the latter hasn’t returned to work yet, he hopes to soon. As for James, he is glad that he made these health changes and lost weight so that he can save his brother’s life.
“It’s a chance, an opportunity to do something for your fellow man, person, stranger, neighbor, family member and I think I did what everyone else would have done,” he said. “There’s nothing more special and rewarding.”
James willingly gave up a part of himself in the name of saving his brother’s life. What an inspiring man!