David S. Ware, a 59-year-old acclaimed avant-garde jazz saxophonist who learned his craft at the knee of Sonny Rollins, originally did not want anything to do with someone else’s kidney. “I didn’t want someone else’s life force in me,” said Mr. Ware, whose own kidneys started failing 12 years ago. “I couldn’t come to terms with it.”
That philosophical resistance changed in January, when dialysis, which Mr. Ware had chosen as an alternative to a transplant, stopped working and his condition turned dire. Mr. Ware was preparing for the long wait for a stranger’s kidney — it usually takes at least a year in New Jersey, where he lives — when his longtime record producer, Steven Joerg, sent out an urgent e-mail message, informing fans that Mr. Ware’s survival depended on his receiving a healthy kidney.