Tiffany England signed up to be a living kidney donor to help a close friend and ended up helping a stranger instead.
During the donor evaluation process, her friend got a kidney from a deceased organ donor.
“I was so very happy for her, but also realized there are a lot of people still waiting for a kidney,” England said. “I decided to donate anyway.”
Her recipient ― Raj Arora ― is no longer a stranger. They met recently at a special event planned by their UC Davis Health surgery teams.
After exchanging hugs and a few tears, they introduced their spouses and spent time getting to know each other.
England, who works as a bookkeeper, is the mother of two sons and lives in Red Bluff.
Arora, also the parent of two sons, is an IT professional from the East Bay Area. He had been on dialysis for a year and half due to renal failure. His wife wanted to be his donor but wasn’t a match, so he was thrilled when he got “the call.”
While most transplant recipients must rush to the hospital when a match is found, his surgery could be planned.
“That was good because we were in the middle of moving to a new home,” Arora said. “I definitely didn’t want to miss the opportunity.”
Transplantation has huge health benefits over dialysis, with living kidney donation being the very best option. Kidneys from living donors typically last much longer than those from deceased donors. About a third of all kidney transplants involve living donors. Only about 3% of those are nondirected (or “good Samaritan”) living donors like England.
England and Arora have both done well since their surgeries last May.
“I felt better right away,” Arora said. “Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about Tiffany. Not just me, but my family as well.”
While England was a little nervous before and had some pain after the surgery, she never doubts her decision.
“If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would not hesitate even for a second,” England said. “The joy of being able to give someone a life far exceeds anything else.”