HINES, Ill. - Three people have lots to be thankful for this holiday season, thanks to a kidney donation chain.
A few months ago, six people were patients at Loyola Medical Center taking part in a kidney transplant chain. On Wednesday, they returned so the recipients can meet their donors for the first time.
The chain started with Terri Thede, who said a story on Facebook about a child in need inspired her to donate a kidney.
"I felt like if I was donating, I wanted to do the most amount of good," Thede said.
Her kidney was a match for 72-year old William Parra. He was on the organ donor list for three weeks when he got the call.
"Anyone out there who is fortunate to have a wife like I do and a donor like this, everyone is going to heaven, as far as I'm concerned," Parra said.
While William's wife Paula was not a match for him, she agreed to keep the chain going and donate her kidney to another patient. That ended up being 34-year-old Vitali Stasiuk. He was diagnosed with kidney failure during a visit here from his native Ukraine.
"Complete shock to find out I needed a kidney transplant," Stasiuk said through a translator.
Vitali's mother wanted to give him her kidney, but was not a match.
"But they assured us everything is gonna be fine. Even if your kidney will not work for you son, there is gonna be someone who will benefit," his mother, Svitlana Gotska, said.
That someone was 61-year old Irene Zapata, who had been on dialysis.
"Thank God, it was very fast when I received the call," Zapata said.
The chain was a 10-hour procedure that took place in August. A team of doctors handled the donors first. Each one had an operating room. Then the recipients.
All say they are thankful to the team at Loyola for getting them through this with no complications and something new to be thankful for this holiday.