Within a year, Tim Peterkin, 41, and Cathy Slack, 60, went from being complete strangers to best friends. The two co-workers now share an inextricable bond since Slack donated her kidney to Peterkin, who has kidney disease.

"From the initial conversations between me and Cathy, I could almost feel her spirit. It was one of those things where you feel like someone's a good person and has a big heart. So it started to make sense to me why she would want to do this for somebody, even if she didn't really know them well. It just seemed like the type of person that she was, and still is," Peterkin told People. 

Slack acknowledged that she was blessed with great health and saw it as an opportunity to help another person to experience a robust life.

"I am really fortunate to be very healthy. And if I can share that health with someone, I will. I'm just so glad we were a match. I've got this wonderful man in my life now," Slack said, according to People.

Peterkin, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, was diagnosed with kidney disease at 25 and was meticulous in monitoring his ailment for a number of years. However, his health began to deteriorate in April 2019, just as he was set to receive a 10-year award at Bayada Home Health Care's Awards Weekend.   

"I originally went to the doctor thinking I got food poisoning. I thought it would pass after a couple of days but it didn't get any better. I eventually stopped by my kidney doctor and I was like, 'Can you just run some labs because I've lost 20 pounds in two weeks and feel horrible,'" he said. 

His doctor ran the necessary tests while Peterkin pushed through his pain and attended Awards Weekend. The event is where he briefly met Slack.  

"The awards conferences are huge. There are a lot of people. But I do remember Tim's smile because he's always wearing it. That's something that stood out to me then, and still today," Slack, a director at New Hampshire Skilled Bayada Home Health Care, said.

Slack's sentimental recollection drastically contrasts Peterkin's personal encounter that weekend.  

"For me, it was the opposite. I remember, kind of, glancing at Cathy, but there was so much going on and I was not feeling well. So for me, the majority of the weekend was all a blur," Peterkin, a director at Charlotte Pediatrics Bayada Home Health Care, said.

When Peterkin returned home, he checked himself into the hospital because his pain was excruciating. His test results came back and validated his initial concerns — he had gone into kidney failure.  

He immediately started dialysis and, upon the urging of his medical staff, sought to find a kidney donor.

"Their thing was, 'Have you done Facebook posts? Have you talked to your job? Have you put yourself out there?' I'm a shy guy [so] it was nerve-wracking," he says.

Eventually, Peterkin sent out a notice to his company. 

"We have all these people that work at the company, maybe somebody might see it, let's just try it. You never know until you try, so I just tried everything," he said.

Bayada sent out its monthly newsletter in Sept. 2020, which included Peterkin's request for a donor. Peterkin's plea instantly caught Slack's eye, who has been a registered organ, blood and platelet donor for over 25 years. She scheduled an appointment at Emory University and started testing right away, even though she was barely an acquaintance of Peterkin. 

"Tim and I were passing ships in the night [at Awards Weekend] and it wasn't until I saw the bit in the newsletter and his need for a kidney that we connected," Slack said.

"I get this Facebook message from Cathy and she said, 'Hi, I'm getting ready to go to Emory [University Hospital] for additional testing.' I was in shock more than anything. Because I had opened up my post to the world and I was like, 'Is this somebody I know?'" Peterkin said. 

Slack committed to a year of testing and traveling back and forth from her home in Bradford, New Hampshire, to Durham, North Carolina.

In Oct. 2021, doctors confirmed that Peterkin and Slack were a match and that they could go forward with the transplant surgery.  

The surgery was scheduled for Nov. 9 at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. When Slack awoke from the surgery she wanted to see her "kidney buddy" at once, according to AmoMama. 

"I do know that when I woke up, I was like, 'I want to see Tim, I've got to see Tim,'" Slack said.

"Seeing each other for the first time was so exciting. I felt like we were bonded even more to each other. I was like, 'I'm her new brother. I know she had two before, but now she's got three.' It definitely was a strong connection. Very, very powerful," Peterkin added. 

The two newly minted friends are currently recovering from their shared surgeries and are now devoted to promoting and raising awareness about kidney donations.  

"I think there's a lot of misunderstandings about kidneys and how you can still be able to donate," "I feel like I'm being a voice of hope and reasoning for other people now, so I definitely want to continue doing that and be able to give back and bring awareness," Peterkin said. 

"Tim invited me to be a part of that. I'm pretty excited to bring awareness to the gift of life. If we can help spread the word more, then that is what I would like to be able to do," Slack said.