“I had never really done any form of martial arts before, but this class sounded interesting,” student Karl Ludwig said. “Students online just raved about Aaron and the type of person he was.”
Ludwig was in his last semester before graduation at Ohio State University. That martial arts teacher was Gall.
“I remember him making a joke on the first day of class, like asking people not to have their phones with them during class but that he would just in case he got a call that the hospital had a transplant ready for him,” Ludwig said.
Gall was open about his struggles with kidney disease. He was teaching martial arts while on dialysis, a grueling daily process.
“It took up a lot of time away from seeing family and friends, doing activities that I love to do,” Gall said.
After Ludwig was inspired by his sister, he started the process to see if he was a match, but why for someone he barely knew?
“You’ll understand when you meet Aaron,” Ludwig said. “When you’re in a room with him, it makes a lot of sense. He’s just a good human being.”
After a post-grad trip to Europe, Ludwig asked Gall to get coffee. They sat in the coffee shop just talking about life for two hours.
Then, Gall received a call that there was a donor.
“I was ready to get back to normal life,” he said.
However, he didn’t know who it was.
“Oh, this is mysterious,” Gall said. “You know, let me know about it, but I never expected it to be Karl.”
“He asked me, you know, ‘Hey, is there anything you’re looking forward to?’” Gall continued. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, we’re not sharing with too many people, but I’ve got a donor.’ And he just kind of looked at me and smiled. In my head, I’m thinking, ‘No. No.’ Never in a million years, would of thought.”
On Sept. 1, they went into surgery. After a long day and a successful transplant, they saw each other for the first time.
“There’s a beautiful picture that my wife captured of when he came to the room for the first time,” Gall said. “In that moment, like, I knew that I had this person with me for the rest of my life, and I’m very thankful.”
“I have received so much more than I’ve given,” Ludwig said. “I gave up a kidney but gained a lifelong best friend.”
“When he hugged me, I didn’t want to let him go because there’s just not enough I could do to thank him,” Gall added.
Now two months post-op, Gall is back teaching martial arts, and Ludwig is feeling great. Even going on a rock-climbing trip just six weeks after surgery.
Gall found out he had kidney disease when he was 28. Recent studies urge anyone 35 and older to get screened for kidney disease regularly.