Two-way kidney swap connects strangers through life-saving gift - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Two-way kidney swap connects strangers through life-saving gift

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Tevin Hamilton (left) donated a kidney to Megan Randall's (right) mom and she donated one of her kidneys to Tevin's mom. Tevin Hamilton (left) donated a kidney to Megan Randall's (right) mom and she donated one of her kidneys to Tevin's mom.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Around the holidays we often hear "it is better to give than to receive," but the story of two families brought together by the need for new kidneys is one that gives living proof to that mindset.

Two young people wanted to help their own moms by donating a kidney but couldn't because they weren't the right match. But they still helped each other.

23-year-old Megan Randall was just hours from getting out of the hospital, but she still took a stroll to say hi to her newest friend down the hall.

Megan, who lives outside Detroit, donated a kidney to Tevin Hamilton's mother and her mom got one from him.

"Basically, I would consider them as family now because they have a piece of me and my mom has a piece of them so we always will cherish something," kidney donor Tevin Hamilton says.

"I'm very thankful," donor Megan Randall adds. "This is like the best Thanksgiving I have ever had . I don't even have to have a meal, just to know that my mom can live longer and healthier is a blessing and to help his mom is a blessing."

Gloria Randall had been on dialysis for three years, but now after a successful operation at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago she has a new kidney, and a new outlook on life.

"I am so thankful and so happy and so glad," kidney recipient Gloria Randall says through tears. "I have a life now I can do things that I couldn't do before."

The surgeries were performed Monday. Tevin's mother Rhonda McClarn, who we talked to prior to the surgery, was anxious to be done with 12 years of dialysis. She is doing well Wednesday night but was too exhausted for an interview.

The simultaneous surgeries last five and a half hours and doctors say everything went well. The prognosis for both kidney recipients is very good.

"If you get a kidney transplant from a living donor, chances are more than 50 percent that this kidney is going to last for more than 15 years," transplant surgeon Dr. Jose Oberholzer explains. "So as long as the kidney transplant works, the survival rate of those patients is very good."

Tevin made it a point to visit Gloria and meet the woman who he has helped.

"[Gloria] lit up with joy," Tevin says. "It was nothing but smiles when I seen her."

"It was exciting," Gloria adds of seeing Tevin. "And to see someone that I got their kidney and I told him that I am really going to take care of it."

Megan also had a chance to meet Rhonda, forming their own bond. The two families plan to stay in touch after they all go home.

"We exchanged numbers. We're gonna keep in contact through phone, Facebook, because we're now connected, for life kinda thing, I just want to show him I really appreciate what he did for me and for my mother and I know he feels the same for me," Megan says.

According to the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, there are 4,700 people in the state waiting for a kidney transplant.

Megan says after this experience she wants to encourage more people her age to consider donating a kidney. For these two families, it has literally been a life-changing experience.

For more information on the transplant program at the University of Illinois, click here.

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