A San Diego woman has made headlines -- and a huge difference in another woman's life -- after donating her kidney to a complete stranger thousands of miles away.
Valerie Maupin, 24, recently traveled to Florida to donate her kidney to Christine Curti, a 50-year-old woman from Holiday, Fla., in need of a transplant.
Maupin – a nursing student who works as a barber at Floyd’s 99 Barbershop in San Diego – found Curti through a Facebook group called Find a Kidney Central earlier this year. After much email, phone and text correspondence, plus a few medical tests, the two women found they were a match.
Maupin told NBC 7 San Diego Curti’s story stood out, and she felt compelled to help.
“Christine is also in the medical field; she’s a nurse. I thought, if I could have the opportunity to help someone who also helps others then I’d be helping not just one person, but a lot of people,” said Maupin.
Maupin flew to Florida a couple of weeks ago. On Nov. 13, she donated one of her kidneys to Curti as planned.
Curti said Maupin’s selfless gesture saved her life, and she couldn’t be more grateful.
“I can’t even tell you the amazing feeling it is that someone gave me a second chance at life,” she said.
Maupin said she was happy to help.
“Most people ask me first why [I did this]. My kind of initial reaction is, why not?” she said.
Maupin has documented her journey as an organ donor on the website, My Living Kidney Donation.
There, she describes the moment she became interested in becoming a donor. Someone close to her best friend needed a kidney and though willing, Maupin wasn’t a match for that woman.
“I then began to think, ‘If I am willing to do this process for someone I know, why wouldn't I do it for someone I don't know?’ Everyone deserves the equal opportunity to have a normal, healthy life."
Maupin is still in Florida recovering from the surgery. On Saturday, she told NBC 7 she was on the mend and feeling well.
She also said Curti was doing well and had been released from the hospital. The pair spent some time visiting on Friday, and Maupin said Curti was in high spirits.
And, though strangers at one point, Maupin said she and Curti now share an unbreakable, lifelong bond.
“We’re family now, forever,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
Following the transplant surgery, doctors told Maupin she can’t work for about three months. A fund has been established to cover her personal expenses while she’s out of work. To donate to Maupin’s fund, click here.