Their friendship started like many friendships at Kiewit — with a move to a new place.
In 2012, James Swallow and his family moved from Honolulu, Hawaii, to faraway Texas. James was starting a new job as a structural fitter, and it was there he met Hermen Orosco, who was also a fitter.
The two started out as coworkers but became friends as Hermen — a black belt karate instructor — began to train James’ daughter.
“James and I have known each other for quite some time now,” shared Hermen. “I have had the ultimate pleasure of getting to know his family through our job and my work at the Karate Dojo.”
Thanks to Hermen’s coaching and instruction from Chief Instructor Jeff Ghee, Jayme-Lynn earned three gold medals in the Junior Olympics in 2016.
Unfortunately, James’ health took a turn for the worst this year.
In January, James was diagnosed with kidney failure and was put on the transplant list. In March, Hermen went through the necessary testing to find out if he could be a living kidney donor. In June, the friends got great news — Hermen was a match.
The pair underwent many tests in preparation for the transplant surgery. The surgery took place in San Antonio.
Both men are recovering well after the transplant. While James still has a long road to recovery ahead — including anti-rejection medications, weekly labs and follow-up trips to San Antonio — he is enjoying spending time off with his wife, five children and four grandchildren.
When asked why he was willing to make such a huge sacrifice, Hermen gave a humble reply.
“Donating a part of me to assist him and his family is an honor I hold dearly,” said Hermen. “I feel God has brought James and me together as friends for many reasons, and this was one of them. James and his family have always been a blessing to me through their friendship, and this journey has blessed him and me both.”
James, too, expressed his gratitude for their families’ friendship.
“Hermen, you saved my life, and I will be forever grateful,” said James. “Your friendship has always been a blessing to me and my family. Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for giving me more time with my wife, children and grandchildren. You are our hero.”