Fraternity Brothers for Life
Westminster College has been the source of countless stories where students and alumni have performed selfless acts of service to make a difference in the lives of other people. But perhaps the most remarkable of all stories is the sacrifice Tom Rigdon, ’70, from Newkirk, OK, made for his Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity brother Rod Mohler, ’71, from Ponca City, OK to save Mohler’s life.
The two men grew up literally miles apart, but it was only when Tom came to convince Rod to enroll at Westminster and become his SAE fraternity brother that the two actually met. Over the years they became close friends and would get together 3-4 times a year with phone conversations taking place on a more regular basis since both remained in their respective small towns, Rigdon as an attorney and Mohler with his own construction business.
Everything was going well for the two men until Rod was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. His physician did tell him if he had to have a kidney disease, this was the most slow growing and would give him time to try to deal with the illness. After several years, Rod Mohler finally had to begin dialysis on his birthday May 13, 2013. Since he had known for three years that his kidneys were failing, Rod had already placed himself on a donor list.
He spent the next two years on dialysis with no possible donor. His sister was rejected because of her small size and some kidney problems of her own. Then an attorney friend from Ponca City came forward to volunteer but was rejected because of his high blood pressure.
During this time period, Tom checked on Rod regularly to see how he was doing. In early 2015 the two men and Tom’s wife, a William Woods graduate who had known Rod for years, attended a wedding dance together and really had an opportunity to visit in depth. Two days later Rod Mohler received a phone call. It was Tom calling to say he had been thinking about Rod’s health problem for some time and had done some research on it. After discussing a possible solution with his wife Mary, Tom was calling to say he was willing to donate a kidney if the organ was found to be a match. To say Rod was speechless is an understatement.
The tests were conducted, and Tom’s kidney was a match. On March 9, 2015, the surgery took place and was a success.
Today both men are doing well. Rod has been able to return to construction work, remodeling houses full time, and Tom walks to work every morning to his busy law office.
“Tom Rigdon went above and beyond what any friend could ever be expected to do,” says Rod Mohler. “Words can never express how grateful I am that he has given me my life back.”
Two Westminster fraternity brothers are now forever connected…with a bond that reaches far beyond brotherhood.