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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | Nov. 23, 2021

Oklahoma Guardsman donates kidney to retiree, friend

By Leanna Maschino, Oklahoma National Guard

A little over a year ago, Capt. Christopher Buck, a member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, had a life-changing decision in front of him; a decision that would save his friend's life.

His friend, Greg Randolph, retired Oklahoma Army National Guardsman and deputy sheriff for Logan County, found out he had kidney issues just before exiting the military. After 14 years treatments, Randolph's condition had worsened to the point of needing to be placed on the transplant list.

After receiving the news, Randolph's wife, Gerri, began asking family and friends if anyone would be willing to undergo testing to see if they would be a match.

Buck immediately wanted to help out his friend, but first had to ensure that the military would allow him to donate a kidney before providing any false hope. The request had to go all the way up to the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army for approval, the top medical official for the Army.

"That's what I was most concerned about," Buck said. "Giving the kidney was never a question for me-I was happy to do it, especially for Greg."

The process for donating an organ is no easy feat when considering all the required testing, finding a match and going through the surgical and recovery process. Getting permission from the military is an additional obstacle, on top of holding the risk of triggering a medical discharge for Buck if something went wrong.

Buck received permission to donate his kidney, and the risk of losing his full-time career was worth it.

"It meant more to help him," Buck said. "I had a pretty good feeling I was going to turn out fine, but you know there's always that chance and that didn't matter to me. It was whatever turns out, turns out, we're going to try and get Greg this kidney."

The initial transplant conversation between Buck and Randolph happened at a cookout, after each of their wives had communicated about it for some time.

"Buck and I hadn't even talked about it-it was just through his wife and my wife going back and forth," Randolph said. "So I went up to him at the cookout and I'm like, 'Hey bro, what's up with this looking to give me a kidney?' and he was like, 'Absolutely, man!' So that kind of began our journey right there."

The two connected through their wives initially, but their friendship grew from their mutual understanding of the military and service in the Guard.

"I think I felt inspired to be a part of this because of my military service," Buck said. "We're trained and educated on selfless service and what it means. We wouldn't be in this job if we didn't believe in it."

For Randolph, this action was a life-changing gift for both him and his family.

"It means everything," Randolph said. "It's the most selfless act someone could give, so the respect and the love that I have for him is just off the charts."

After a long process of testing and doctor's appointments to confirm they matched, both men underwent surgery and have since recovered well. Buck, who is a marathon runner, has returned to running several miles per day and swears he has more energy than he did before surgery.

"I was more concerned about Buck than I was myself, because what if it didn't take," Randolph said. "I live that way every day-I'm like, 'Well, what should I do for Buck? Should I run eight miles today?' A brisk walk, maybe," he joked.
Video by Staff Sgt. Reece Heck
Oklahoma Guard conducts annual Mechanic of the Year competition
Oklahoma National Guard
Feb. 7, 2024 | 1:36
Oklahoma Army National Guardsmen gathered to test their mechanical skills at the third annual Mechanic of the Year competition held at the Combined Support Maintenance Shop in Norman, Oklahoma, Feb. 7, 2024. (Oklahoma National Guard video by Staff Sgt. Reece Heck)

CG Information:
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Rocky Anderson
President of the Mechanic of the Year Board