The Atlantic

When You Give a Friend a Kidney

“From the moment I thought Scott might need a kidney, it was just a given to me that I was giving him mine.”
Source: Wenjia Tang

Every week, The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.

This week, she talks with a trio of friends about the time one of them gave another his kidney. Scott Moore was diagnosed with a life-threatening kidney disorder in 2015. Dustin Lehmann offered up his kidney from the moment he heard of Scott’s illness, and last summer, after having been deemed an excellent match, he donated one of his kidneys to his friend. They recovered side by side in Scott’s living room. Dustin, Scott, and their close friend Brandon Knisley, who witnessed it all, discuss the origins and growth of their friendship, and how they weathered the uncertainty and despair of Scott’s sickness, and the joy of Dustin’s life-saving donation.

The Friends

Brandon Knisley, 37, a fundraiser for a girls’ school in Memphis, Tennessee
Dustin Lehmann, 34, a consultant and freelance writer who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio
Scott Moore, 57, the principal trumpet player for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in Memphis, Tennessee

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Julie Beck: How did you guys meet and become friends?

Brandon Knisley: I was brought down from Chicago to Memphis to work with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in management. Scott and I met right away during one of my interviews, but really where we became friends was as classic adversaries. We were negotiating a union contract, sitting on opposite sides of the table. I was management and he was labor. He was the chief negotiator for the orchestra and I was the chief negotiator for the symphony. We respected each other—we were both pretty transparent and straight-up, and through that process we started hanging out at a local bar and we just hit it off.

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