LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Friends for 20 years have an even deeper bond now that one has given his pal the ultimate gift…the gift of life.

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The two men are lifeguards, ironically. So they already know a little something about saving a life.

A genetic kidney disease caused David Coiner — a harbor patrolman in Catalina and a member of the LA County Search and Rescue team — to fight for his own survival.

As Melissa McCarty reported in the KCAL9 News at 10 p.m. Thursday, Coiner was the kind of friend who never complained, didn’t burden his buddies with his problems. This despite sometimes having to spend nine hours every day involved in dialysis.

“I didn’t want to burden anyone else with my illness. and I tried to deal with it myself in the beginning. It wasn’t until I opened up, asked for help from other people that I got it”

Help came in the form of his friend Lance Dempsey, a paramedic and lifeguard for LA County.

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Coiner went on the donor match list, but that can take upwards of ten years.  Lance volunteered to be tested, and not only was he a perfect match, they were close enough to be relatives.

McCarty reports this friendship will last at least another 20 years now. Coiner says of his friend, “he was generous and brave.”

Dempsey downplays his major donation. “I don’t see it as brave. I see it as friendship. And why wouldn’t I do it?”

McCarty reports Lance was already gearing up to leave the hospital this evening, Coiner will have to remain a few more days.

They both encourage patients not to be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Says McCarty, both men want everyone to know, “the perfect match could be the one closest to you.”

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For more information about kidney transplants and the USC Transplant Institute please call (323) 442-5908.