Stranger Donates Kidney, Saves Boy

By Charlie Wojciechowski and BJ Lutz
|  Friday, Nov 12, 2010  |  Updated 7:00 PM CDT
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They started out as strangers, but now the lives of <a title=Chris Doing and Tina Saavedra are forever intertwined." />

They started out as strangers, but now the lives of Chris Doing and Tina Saavedra are forever intertwined.

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They started out as strangers, but now the lives of Chris Doing and Tina Saavedra are forever intertwined.

Inspired by his late grandmother's posthumous gift of her organs, Doing was inspired into action after reading about Saavedra's son earlier this year.

With a rare condition called Prune Belly Syndrome, young Nathan Saavedra, who will turn 2 later this month, faced a life of uncertainty.  The rare, genetic birth defect put the boy's kidneys on the path to failure.  Without a transplant, he would have to face dialysis and the constant risk of life-threatening infections.

Doing read about the boy's plight nearly seven months ago in the Elgin Courier-News.

"The story was just heart-touching," said Doing, 38.  "All his relatives had been disqualified.  There was a fairly selective process."

Doing initially didn't want the Saavedra's to know who was giving Nathan his new kidney, but ultimately reached out to the mother in September via Facebook.

"All of a sudden, I received a message from Chris. I said, ‘Are you the person saving my son?’" recalled Tina Saavedra, according to the Courier-News.  "He said, ‘Yes, it’s me.’"

The transplant finally happened Oct. 25.  One of doing's kidneys was removed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and put into the boy at Children's Memorial Hospital

Both surgeries went better than expected, according to Tina, and the results were immediate and dramatic.

"About an hour or two after his surgery, [the doctors] did a blood test and all of his levels were already perfect," she said Friday during a reunification with Doing at a playground.  "I was so happy to finally not have to worry about how he was doing."

With the new kidney, Nathan Saavedra's prospects are good.  He still faces a lifetime of anti-rejection medication and 
future surgeries to correct his belly, but the latter won't start until he heals from the surgery that saved his life.

"He is very heroic," Tina said of Doing.  "I will always feel so happy to have met him and for him to have saved my son."

Recalling the number of letters of thanks his aunt received from organ recipients following his grandmother's death, Doing said the mild soreness he experienced was worth it.

"Absolutely.  Absolutely.  It's a small price to pay for the life of a guy like that."

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