Jim “Gomer” Nabors was 87.
A close call
Nabors’ charmed life almost came to an end in 1994. He was diagnosed with liver failure caused by the hepatitis B virus. The Mayo Clinic, where he went for his annual physical, didn’t hold out much hope.
“He called and said he probably didn’t have much time left,” Burnett remembers. “I said, ‘This is ridiculous.’”
And, despite promising she wouldn’t tell anyone, Burnett immediately got on the phone and hooked her friend up with the head of the transplant division at the University of California-Los Angeles.
Nabors says he was about a week away from death when he was matched with a liver. “When you get a transplant, you can’t pray for the organ, because somebody has to die (in order for you) to get your organ. So I thought, ‘What will be, will be.’ I felt that I had been blessed in my life. I had a great family. I had a great career. I had wonderful friends. If God seemed fit to take me, it was OK.”
But it wasn’t Nabors’ time, and a motorcycle accident in San Diego provided him with the life-saving liver. The operation, and his recovery, made him “aware of the person I am,” he says, “and the person I was trying to be.”
And just who is that?
“I try to be a good person, a nice person,” he says. “One interviewer asked me, ‘What do you want on your tombstone?’ The only thing I could think of was: ‘He was a nice guy.’”