“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12, 13).”
Daniel Huffman and his grandmother Shirley Allison were tight. When Shirley became legally blind for a while because of diabetes, Daniel helped her get around and read the mail to her.
Likewise, Shirley was a key part of Daniel’s life. A product of a broken home, Daniel ended up living with Shirley.
“My grandparents kinda saved me,” Daniel said in a magazine article. “There’s a whole lot of drugs and stuff around here. I probably would’ve ended up all messed up.”
“Sometimes we raised them.” Shirlee said of her grandchildren the same article, “and sometimes they raised us.”
The reason why Daniel Huffman became newsworthy was because at the age of 17 he decided to donate a kidney to his grandmother. Shirley was losing the function of her kidneys and dialysis wasn’t working.
The decision wasn’t an easy one for Daniel. He was a pretty good high school football player and he loved the game. It was his passion. However, giving up a kidney meant he would never be able to play contact sports again.
Despite opposition from his mother, the apathy of his father and protests from his grandmother, the 17-year old Daniel persisted. The transplant went on and Shirley was saved.
After the operation Shirley said, “Every morning I wake up, I get on my knees and thank two people: God and Daniel.”
Daniel was wise beyond his years. Sometimes older people get bitter, or set in their ways and the younger folks have to take some leadership. Solomon says its better to be a poor, wise young person than an old rich coot who will no longer listen to advice (Ecclesiastes 4:13). Paul told his his young disciple Timothy to not let people mock him for his youth, but to be a model for others by leading an exemplary life (I Timothy 4:12).
What motivated Daniel to sacrifice for his grandmother? The easy answer is that he loved her. But he was inspired to give up a kidney for at least one more reason: his grandmother was his close friend and confidante, and he would have been lonely without her.
While watching his grandmother slowly fade away, he realized how much he missed the woman he knew prior to the illness. Daniel needed Shirley and Shirley needed Daniel. He made up his mind to be her donor.
Where does love come from? It is a result of finding someone who dispels our loneliness. When we find that kind of relationship, we learn that two are indeed better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
Daniel Huffman really had no choice. He had learned that his love for his grandmother was one worth dying for.