EXCLUSIVE: Bay Area kidney transplant recipient 'forever grateful' as he meets his donor

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Thursday, April 20, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Watch the moment Bay Area kidney recipient meets his donor
Watch the first-ever meeting between a Santa Rosa woman who donated her kidney and the Santa Rosa man who benefited from her decision.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- It was an emotional moment on Wednesday in the first-ever meeting between a Santa Rosa woman who donated her kidney and the Santa Rosa man who benefited from her decision.

"These are for you. I appreciate it. You changed my life, seriously. You gave me a second chance in life and I'm forever grateful. Thank you very much," explained kidney recipient Juan Hernandez to his donor Dominique Overturf.

"I'm happy I could do that for you," replied Overturf as she wiped away tears from her face.

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Overturf decided to donate one of her kidneys earlier this year at Sutter Health in San Francisco.

Because of her decision, Hernandez, who had been on dialysis, was given the gift of a new kidney.

"She gave me another chance in life and I'm more appreciative than anything," said Hernandez.

Dominique didn't know Juan but was inspired to become an organ donor after celebrity Selena Gomez's kidney transplant. Dominique is what some would call a "non-directed" donor, her kidney went to a match system that linked people across the country and in turn, four people received new kidneys.

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"That kidney got other pairs who had other incompatible donors transplanted and at the end of that chain is an extra kidney and we were able to donate that extra kidney to someone on our waiting list and that was Juan," said Dr. Steve Katznelson who is a transplant nephrologist at Sutter Health.

"You are his angel! Believe me. I don't know how to say thank you so much. You do so much for my kid," said Hernandez's mom Lilia Garcia.

Dominique and Juan's first-ever meeting comes as Sutter Health launches an all-new living donor institute during National Donate Life Month.

3 months post-surgery, both are healthy and well.

"I'm at a loss of words you know," said Hernandez.

"I didn't think I'd be crying this much," said Overturf.

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"I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart," said Hernandez.

"I'm so happy I could do this for you," said Overturf.

"It's like, I owe you one!" said Hernandez.

"No, no, no. Nothing is owed," said Overturf.

"Like I said God is going to bless you with a lot of blessings for having a big heart like that. Thank you," said Hernandez.

You can find more information on transplant services at Sutter Health here.

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