Nearly 120,000 Americans are waiting for an organ transplant. The vast majority of those are in need of a kidney donor.
But statistics show less than 25 percent will find a donor this year.
One local father of five beat those odds, thanks to a selfless gift from an old friend.
Ryan Rodriguez, 32, has suffered from kidney issues since he was a child. But last year, things took a turn for the worse.
“I noticed that I really wasn't feeling well, my leg was swollen,” he said. “I went to the hospital and that’s when they told me my kidney function dropped to just 9 percent.”
The young father’s kidneys had failed. He started calling his family from the hospital to let them know of his prognosis. But when he rang his old friend, Darrhyl Harris, he heard an offer he couldn’t believe
“I think I remember him saying 'Well, what do I need to do to find out if I'm a match,' " said Ryan. ”I was so surprised because that wasn't even the goal. I was just calling to let loved ones know.”
Darrhyl and Ryan had been friends since grade school. Both are fathers, and they’d shared decades of memories. Now they were getting ready to share something else.
“I didn't really think twice about it. I just got the info and went to get tested and luckily I was a match,” said Darrhyl.
Dr. Robert Harland is the surgical director of Solid Organ Transplantation at Banner UMC Hospital.
He performed the transplant this week. It was the first time doctors at the hospital performed two live transplants in one day.
“We've focused a lot of our efforts on not just adding people to the wait list, but making sure people on the wait list are ready to be transplanted tomorrow if a kidney comes up,” said Harland.
Transplants at Banner UMC increased more than 100 percent last year. But the national trend is far more dire.
“A little less than 1 of out every 4 people on the wait list will get transplanted this year,” said Dr. Harland.
Darrhyl says donating one of his kidneys was one of the easiest decisions he’s made.
“If you have more than one of something, why not give? And give someone a second chance at life,” he said.
With so many still waiting for a donor, Ryan says he feels like one of the lucky ones.
“The fact that someone could give a part of themselves and still live a normal life, but drastically change someone else's life, it’s been a huge blessing,” he said.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a living organ donor, visit the United Network of Organ Sharing here.
The friends are hosting a fundraiser to help cover expenses that added up during recovery. For more information, click here.