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‘I had a spare’: Flyer inspires woman to donate kidney to father of 4

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 2:34 AM EDT
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CHICAGO (WBBM) - Two total strangers from Chicago are now connected by the special gift of a donated kidney.

Julian Ortiz and Lisa Segura were strangers until two months ago, but their bond is more than just skin deep. The latter donated her kidney to the former, a father of four, after seeing a flyer that said he needed a transplant.

“She has impacted the life of our children, and she saved their daddy,” said Claribel Ortiz, Julian’s wife.

Lisa Segura donated her kidney to Julian Ortiz, a father of four, after seeing a flyer that...
Lisa Segura donated her kidney to Julian Ortiz, a father of four, after seeing a flyer that said he needed a transplant. He has battled an autoimmune disease affecting his kidneys for most of his life.(Source: Family photos, WBBM via CNN)

Julian Ortiz has battled the autoimmune disease glomerulonephritis for most of his life. The disease that affects his kidneys attacked his body until he could barely move.

“It got [so] bad that I couldn’t even get off the bed. My legs were so swollen,” Julian Ortiz said.

Two years ago, doctors told Julian Ortiz he needed a new kidney if he wanted to survive.

“There were days that we lost hope,” Claribel Ortiz said. “I put a sign on our vehicle in the back window that said, ‘Our daddy needs a kidney.’ We did videos, flyers.”

As fate would have it, Segura saw one of those flyers at the Midway Baseball Association, the place she and Julian Ortiz both coach. They’d never met, but Segura applied anyway. She was a match.

For Segura, giving up an organ was an easy decision.

“I knew if I had a spare, I only needed one to live,” she said. “I can’t imagine my kids living without me, and I don’t want that for his kids or his family.”

Julian Ortiz says his kidney donor gave him another chance at a healthy life, not only for...
Julian Ortiz says his kidney donor gave him another chance at a healthy life, not only for himself but also his wife and four kids.(Source: Family photos, WBBM via CNN)

The kidney transplant took place two weeks ago. The memory of seeing each other for the first time after surgery will last them both a lifetime.

“It was funny. It was like, ‘Wow, there’s a piece of me literally in his body now,’” Segura said.

“It was a surreal moment. It was like she practically gave me another chance at life and healthy life, not only for myself but for my kids and my wife. There’s nothing I could do to pay her back,” Julian Ortiz said.

The National Kidney Foundation estimates there are 100,000 people around the country waiting for a kidney transplant.

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