CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – In a world where bad news is all too common, it gets us going again when we come across a heartwarming story. For Steve Sanders, one such story is what kept him going.
Several years ago, Sanders was diagnosed with a rare, genetic kidney disease that caused his kidneys to slowly stop functioning. As time went on, it became apparent that he would have to either begin dialysis or receive a kidney transplant.
Dialysis, which is a process that often requires patients to be connected to tubes to filter out waste products and excess fluid from the blood, would likely diminish Sanders’ ability to remain active with his children.
Family and friends tested to see if they were a donor match for Sanders, but none were. With his options running out, Sanders took to social media with hopes that someone would be a willing match.
In July 2021, Sanders’ wish came true.
Chris Perez, a complete stranger to Sanders, heard of Sanders’ story and his desire to remain active with his kids.
Motivated by being a father himself, Perez decided to undergo tests to determine if he could donate to Sanders.
“It was something about his story as a dad, and I was trying to imagine a situation like that in which I would need help,” said Perez. “I didn’t know him but thought let’s give this a try — I would want someone to do this for me.”
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To the delight of both men, Perez was a match. In January 2022, the two underwent successful surgeries at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center (CMC).
“It means everything to me,” Sanders says. “It’s a chance at continuing to have a normal life with my kids. It shows Chris’ commitment to being a father and allowing me the same chance.”
Since Perez responded to Sanders’ post last year, the former strangers have become good friends, bonded by fatherhood, a common background, and most importantly, a healthy, living-giving kidney.
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