My name is Dejan Kralj, 46 years old, an Olympian and multiple medalist from the world and European championships in kayak slalom. My best friend Jernej Čopič (friend since 10 years old) received a kidney from his mother in 2008 and unfortunately the time came when he had to undergo dialysis in September 2021.

My story begins when my best friend tells me that the kidney he got from his mother is failing. Even then, I started thinking about how I could help. When we met Slovenia’s athlete of the year and had a wonderful evening, I happily told him that I was ready to help and donate a kidney. Since we had the possibility that the transplant would take place in Los Angeles, I was of course ready and at the same time happy that we would have the transplant at the best clinic in the world. On October 18, 2022, we had an operation and everything went as it should.

The best thing about it is when you watch how Jernej lives better every day and how his health improves. When I am a part of this story, which is priceless, I am very humbled that I will be able to laugh and have fun with Jernej for a long time and play sports around the world.

My life is more alive and healthy after the transplant and I look forward to the years ahead. I can say that this experience taught me how to respect life.

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