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The Gift of Life and Enduring Brotherhood

The bond of Sigma Nu Fraternity transcends the years spent within chapter houses and college campuses, often revealing itself in the most remarkable of ways. For chapter brothers Jimmy Carder and Dan Jagoe (Jacksonville State), an extraordinary act of kindness not only saved a life but defined the true meaning of brotherhood. 

In the fall of 2023, Jimmy donated a kidney to Dan – gifting him with a life free of dialysis and pain. 

“It speaks to our brotherhood and the love me and Jimmy have for each other after all these years,” said Dan, who lives just two miles away from Jimmy. 

The friendship between Jimmy and Dan stretches back four decades, starting in the chapter house of Sigma Nu in the early 1980s. After college, they both relocated to Cumming, Ga., growing closer as neighbors and the best of friends. 

For the past 14 years, Jimmy has hosted “Jimmy Fest,” an annual reunion for his Sigma Nu brothers. Dan has attended each one. A few years ago, they started meeting each month for breakfast. 

“We get together, talk shop, talk about families and the fraternity,” Jimmy said. “And we call it ‘biscuit with a brother’.” 

In May 2023, during their monthly breakfast, Dan revealed his kidneys were failing, functioning as low as six percent. He had been placed on the transplant list at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. 

Jimmy remembers little else about the conversation other than trying to figure out how he could help his friend. 

“I’ve had a lot of close [Sigma Nu] brothers pass away in the last few years,” Jimmy said. “And I knew I couldn’t help the others, but maybe I can help Dan.”

Without telling anyone other than his wife, Jimmy started the process to determine if his kidneys were a match for Dan. He did not tell Dan of his plans to spare him the disappointment if it did not work out. Three months later, in September 2023, after grueling rounds of lab work, blood draws, and other tests, he learned he was a match. 

At the same time, Dan was searching donor registries for someone willing to provide a kidney to someone in need. He learned in September 2023, there was a match. The first person Dan called was Jimmy to tell him the good news.

“He didn’t know I was that person,” said Jimmy, who congratulated his best friend, then headed immediately over to Dan’s house.

Sitting in his friend’s kitchen moments later, Jimmy handed Dan the letter from Piedmont Hospital Transplant Center with news of the donor identity. Dan was speechless when he saw Jimmy’s name.

“I looked at Jimmy, and he said ‘yes,’ and we just hugged each other and cried…it was absolutely beautiful,” said Dan of the moment. “He saved my life…and I can never thank him enough.”

Two weeks later, Dan received his donated kidney.

Both Jimmy and Dan knew that kidney donation and transplant are major surgeries with significant recovery times. However, Jimmy said his recovery has been “uneventful,” and after a few weeks was taking only Tylenol and back at the gym.

For Dan, the recovery challenges are lessened by the emotional lift of true friendship.

“To this day, we check on each other almost every day…and that will never change,” Dan said. “The real meaning of brotherhood, love, truth, and honor and taking care of each other is magnified tenfold.”

For Jimmy, it was a humbling experience, saying “I was blessed to be put in that position and honored that I was able to do that for him,”

 

© 2015-2022 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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