Kidney swap forever links 3 families

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two Harvey High School football buddies are credited with starting a life-saving kidney swap. The effort touches three families and involves three different races.

Luis Villalobos gave Chris Moore, a man he never met, a new chance at life this week by donating his kidney to the 53-year-old.

However, that was not the original plan.

Luis had hoped to give his 69-year-old father Pedro his kidney, but was disappointed to find out they were not a match.

"They gave us hope when they said, 'We got option B,' which is we could swap," Villalobos said.

A swap with Chris Moore and his donor Tom Sweet. The two Thornton High School football buddies reconnected a couple years ago at a reunion. Moore needed a transplant and Sweet, a match, was willing to help.

"It's something I had to do," Sweet said.

"We had a date set on Nov. 12. He and I were already coming in together, he was going to be my donor and that was going to be it," said Moore.

Until University of Illinois Hospital's Dr. Enrico Benedetti asked the friends about a swap.

"We could have done simply from one to the other, but they were generous enough to extend the opportunity another family," Benedetti said.

Since Sweet was a match for Pedro Villalobos and his son Luis was a match for Moore, it was all up to Sweet to make the decision to help.

"I said, 'As long as Chris is getting a kidney on the 12th, I don't care how many people we do it with,'" he said.

All 4 men went in for successful surgery on the 12th. All say their lives are forever changed by the generosity of strangers who are now lifelong friends.

"My dad is going to be home, Chris is going to be home and we are all going to have a good Thanksgiving," Villalobos said.

"We got a Latino family, African-American family and Caucasian family, all of us are combined for the rest of our lives," Moore said.

All 3 families and their children are now Facebook friends and plan to continue staying in touch. With his new lease on life, Moore would like to move back to the Chicago area from Houston and mentor kids in his native Harvey. His buddy Tom wants to help.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 3,400 people in Illinois are on the waiting list for a kidney.
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