• People donate kidneys to complete strangers

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    A selfless act this Thanksgiving as people donate kidneys to complete strangers.

    Channel 11 was there as Tiffany Ash saw her two children since her surgery.

    "I've been on dialysis for three years and it's just been a rough road," she said.

    Just three years ago, Ash was the picture of health.


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    But then she was diagnosed with kidney disease and needed a new one to survive. A kidney that came this week. 

    Less than 24 hours after their surgeries, Tiffany, the recipient, met Gretchen Herda, the donor.

    Two complete strangers before today. 

    "Most of us think of giving our hearts as the meaning of life," Herda said. "Giving the kidney was just as great as having a big heart."

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    Herda has a big heart. She works as a UPMC nurse practitioner and spends her days caring for people who are one step away from hospice.

    "You wish you could do more for people," she said. "This was a way of giving back."

    And just down the hall, there was another person who gave one of his kidneys to a complete stranger on the very same day. 

    Paul Wright and his wife saw a UPMC ad on becoming an altruistic donor and thought it was the right thing to do.

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    "My father died three years ago and before he died, he said, 'I hope people learn from me, the way I live my life,'" Wright said. "He was a good, loving, God-fearing man, but he wanted to demonstrate what a good life was."

    Dr. Amit Tevar performed the surgeries and all four patients are doing well. It doesn't end there.

    "The altruistic donor will start a chain that will allow multiple people to get transplanted over a long period of time," Tevar said. "Even for us who do this every day, it's moving, it's touching, a tribute to how the donors are."

    The donors had a last check with their doctors as they get discharged the day after surgery, home for Thanksgiving with much to be thankful for.  

    In an amazing coincidence, Gretchen and Tiffany have another connection. Tiffany is from Somerset and her family owns a pizza shop.

    It's the same pizza shop Gretchen and her family visit whenever they are in Somerset to ski.

    For more information on becoming a living donor with UPMC, CLICK HERE.


     

     

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