CHICAGO (CBS) — How often do you notice flyers on bulletin boards, or decals on a passing car? The answer might just mean the difference between life and death. And it did for two total strangers in Chicago who are now connected by a special gift of a donated kidney.
They only met two months ago, but the bond between Lisa Segura and Julian Ortiz is more than just skin deep – to say the least. “She’s impacted the life of our children,” Ortiz’s wife, Claribel, told WBBM-TV. “They see her as a hero. She saved their daddy.”READ MORE: Americans Are Quitting At Record Rates. Georgia Leads The Pack.
Julian Ortiz has battled an autoimmune disease for most of his life. Glomerulonephritis began attacking his body until the father of four could barely move. “It got bad enough that I couldn’t even get off the bed, my legs were so swollen,” he said.
Two years ago, doctors told Ortiz he needed a kidney if he wanted to survive.
“There were days that we lost hope,” said Claribel Ortiz. “I put a sign on our vehicle that says ‘our daddy needs a kidney. We did videos. We did flyers.”
Segura saw one of those flyers at the Midway Baseball Association – the same place they both coach – but they’d never met. “I took a picture of it and I just applied,” she said. “I thought, what the heck? Why not.”
And as fate would have it, she was a match. “It was the best call of our lives,” said Claribel Ortiz.READ MORE: Actor, Comedian Louie Anderson Dies At 68
“I just started crying,” Segura said.
For Segura, giving up an organ was a no-brainer. “It was a pretty easy decision. I knew if I had a spare, I only needed one to live,” Segura said. “I can’t imagine my kids living without me, and I don’t want that for his kids or his family.”
The kidney transplant was two weeks ago. But for Ortiz and Segura, the memory of seeing each other for the first time since surgery will last them a lifetime. “I was like, ‘Wow, there’s a piece of me literally in his body now,’” Segura said.
“It was a surreal moment,” said Ortiz. “She practically gave me another chance at life – not only for myself, but for my kids and my wife. There’s nothing I can do to pay her back for that.”
Nearly 100,000 people around the country are waiting, just like Julian Ortiz was, for their own match. If you’d like to learn more about organ donations and save a life like Segura, you can learn more at the links below.MORE NEWS: St. Petersburg City Council Passes New Measures For Affordable Housing