(WMAQ) Chris Doing, right, says he was just "glad to help" when he donated a kidney to Nathan.
A Stranger's Kidney, A Boy's Life
DECEMBER 23, 2010James Eng, MSNBCTwo-year-old Nathan Saavedra is celebrating Christmas with a new, healthy kidney — thanks to the generosity of a stranger.
The Carpentersville, Ill., toddler suffers from "Prune Belly Syndrome," a rare birth defect that causes the skin of the belly area to wrinkle like a prune, leading to urinary tract problems.Without a new kidney, Nathan would have faced continued dialysis, the risk of infections and an uncertain future.Enter Chris Doing, a 38-year-old information technology security analyst, who first read about Nathan in the Elgin Courier-News in April. He contacted Children's Memorial Hospital, and blood tests determined he was a donor match.
On Oct. 25, doctors at one hospital removed Doing's left kidney, which was taken to another hospital and transplanted into little Nathan. Because Nathan's abdomen was distended, there was just enough room for an adult kidney. Both operations went without a hitch, and for the first time in his short life, Nathan had normal kidney function.
Doing visited Nathan and his mother, Tina Saavedra, in the hospital a week after surgery. It was the first time that Doing met the boy.
"I was really surprised at just how happy and smiling he was," Doing told msnbc.com.
"It was a very emotional meeting for his mom and I," Doing said. "I can't put it into words. Obviously, she feels a debt that she can't fathom repaying and that makes me uncomfortable, because I don’t feel like they owe me. I was just glad to help."
“It was heartbreaking to meet him. I wanted to cry,” Tina Saavedra, told the Courier-News. “He told me after seeing Nathan’s face he couldn’t say no.”
She said Nathan still faces future abdominal surgery and will always take anti-rejection medications, but his prognosis is excellent.
She calls Doing a hero. "I will always feel so happy to have met him and for him to have saved my son," she told NBC Chicago.
Doing, who took a week's vacation to recover from surgery, doesn't regard his gesture as an act of heroism.
"The thing I’ve learned through the whole process is how easy it is to make an impact on other people. People have reached out to me and told me it inspired them do do something for others," Doing said.
"It was honestly one of the most rewarding vacations I’ve ever taken."
© 2010 msnbc.com
Reproduced with permission of MSNBC, from Ordinary people, extraordinary giving: $11.2 million in lottery winnings, a kidney, half your paycheck and more gifts that make a difference by James Eng, December 22, 2010; permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.
You can read this story in its original location and read about more extraordinary acts of generosity at: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40533741