The gift of life cannot be compared to any other gift. In January, KITV4 shared a story about a kidney donation that brought two Hawaii men together. That bond continues today.
Laughter flows pretty freely from Malcolm Lutu these days, especially around his friends and family. Each day over the past three months has been a blessing since he received the gift of life.
"I'm doing great. Everything is – according to the doctor – going fine. I know I'm not wearing my mask right now, but everybody not sick, I think? So we're all good. I still have it in my pocket," said Malcolm Lutu.
Malcolm talks about the mask that protects him from germs while he builds immunity.
It was just late December when the Honolulu police officer received a kidney donated by his Kamehameha High School friend Pono Shim.
In the four years prior to the operation, Malcolm was on home and hemodialysis, which zapped his energy and strength. Today he enjoys time with his family, walking uphill two miles a day and he cannot wait to work out again.
But there are lifetime changes like medicines. Malcolm takes a lot of them -- more than four times a day at specific times. It also affects his food.
"Diet wise I cannot eat raw fish, so sashimi and poke are done. All my steaks got be well done. Easy thing to do compared to what I was going through before," said Malcolm.
Pono's recovery has been just a little rougher. He trained for months leading up to the operation by swimming, running and working out to get in the best physical shape.
"I thought I could will myself because my muscles were still toned and I probably, in face not probably, I didn't give my body a chance to really heal well," said Malcolm.
From a pinched nerve to a pesky rash, at one point he had to visit the emergency room so he stopped and let his body rest.
Now laughter is the best medicine among just a few of the friends who played a role in this gift. Tenari Maafala, also a police officer, kept Pono informed on Malcolm's health.
Back in high school, Malcolm helped Waipa Parker -- his Kamehameha classmate and Pono's cousin -- when Waipa badly injured his ankle. Malcolm carried him to class. That image stuck in Pono's mind.
"You carried Waipa and now it's my turn to carry you," said Pono.
Waipa remembers. He says he has so much aloha for his friend and even more for his cousin.
"I was actually shocked because a lot of people say things. He stepped up to the plate," said Waipa.
The next big step will be when doctors tell Malcolm he no longer needs to use the mask.