Kidney transplant bonds Peninsula friends for life

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- Two Peninsula families consider themselves one big family after a kidney transplant.

A San Mateo County Sheriff's Office correctional officer donated a kidney to a colleague's son. The surgeries went perfectly well at UCSF Medical Center. Both men are recovering and both could be home by the end of the week.

They are bonded for life, and for 19-year-old Garrett Ramos life is just beginning. Ramos started getting sick when he was 14 years old.

"I found out I had IgA Nephropathy, which is a kidney disease," he said.

Ramos has been waiting for a kidney ever since. He's been on dialysis for the last year. Neither of his parents was able to donate, but someone close to the family was.

"In that moment, I knew it was something I wanted to do and I also felt deep down inside that I was going to be a match," Jerran Higgins said.

On Tuesday, he gave his kidney to Ramos.

Higgins is a San Mateo County correctional officer. He works with Ramos' dad Sgt. Gary Ramos, but they were friends first.

"I have no idea what to say to him," Gary said. "I tell him I love him all the time and, thank you so much. He gave me my son back."

"The Ramoses are in the truest sense of the word, really family now," Higgins said. "I'm overwhelmed by, not just what I've done, but I think it's shown me there are people out there willing to do stuff that's extraordinary."

He won't admit it, but Higgins is one of those people.

"He's really stepped up and is doing something that he believes in so it makes us incredibly proud that he has that kind of courage," Amanda Higgins, Jerran's wife said.

And no one is more grateful than Garrett.

"I just keep thanking him," Garrett said. "Feel really blessed that he wanted to do this and was able to do this. I feel reborn."

Garrett plans to go back to junior college in the fall. He's studying to become a history teacher.
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