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Former wrestler gets life-saving transplant from college roommate

A former high school wrestler who had been sidelined from his athletic and academic career for months waiting for a kidney, had his prayers answered Monday.

Mohamed Emlemdi, who wrestled at 170 pounds for Lakota West High School just north of Cincinnati and is now an honors student at University of Cincinnati with a 4.3 GPA, found the best match for a kidney not from a family member, but from his freshman college roommate randomly assigned to him.

Mohamed Emlemdi, right, and Julian Litvak prior to surgery
Originally, Emlemdi, a business major at UC who has been hospitalized for months to receive dialysis while awaiting a kidney, expected one of his brothers to be the donor. However, Emlemdi's freshman roommate, Julian Litvak of Springfield, Ill., was aware of his friend's situation, got tested ... and found out he would be an even better match as a kidney donor.

"What are the odds of him coming from Illinois, becoming my roommate through random selection and ending up being a good match?" Emlemdi told the Cincinnati Enquirer prior to the transplant.

Beyond the nearly 5-hour, 320-mile distance between the hometowns of the recipient and the donor is another powerful distinction: Emlemdi is Muslim, Litvak is Jewish.

Mohamed's mother Fatima considers this to be an important aspect of their story.

"People from different religions can be friends," Fatima Emlemdi said. "Friendship is above everything. People from different religions can love each other. It's important to bring this out in this climate."

The transplant took place late Monday afternoon ... with both recipient and donor now doing well.

As a 170-pound wrestler at Lakota West, Emlemdi was 12-10 with six pins as a senior.

Adam Meyer, an assistant that season -- since promoted to head coach -- has fond memories of Mohamed Emlemdi.

"He was a good-mannered kid," Meyer said. "When he talked, if he said anything, there was a little smile afterward. He had a dry sense of humor. Once I got to know him he opened up a little bit more. He was real coachable."

Meyer has shared Emlemdi's story on the Lakota West wrestling team Twitter account, as well as posting his story from the Facebook account set up as "A Kidney for Mo."

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