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SALT LAKE CITY — An Idaho teen got an early Christmas present in Utah this week, and it might be one of the greatest gifts he's ever received.
Christian David received a kidney transplant from a complete stranger.
The man who gave it to him, Frankie Otero, simply called the hospital one day and said he wanted to donate his kidney. His only stipulation was that it went to a child.
David has had kidney problems his whole life, but only recently his kidneys failed and he was looking at a future filled with dialysis. That was until Otero offered his organ out of the blue.
“Our donor was a direct match with Christian and it worked out perfectly,” said Jeffrey Campsen, surgical director of kidney transplantation at the University of Utah Hospital.
Doctors performed the surgery Tuesday.
Otero later entered David’s room, having never seen the face of the boy whose life he just changed: “I figured if I could, why not?” Otero said.
I tried everything I could do to save him. It was too late for Henry, so that's what gave me the idea.
But there's more to Otero's story: four years ago he lost a close friend to kidney failure.
“I tried everything I could do to save him,” Otero said, choking back tears. “It was too late for Henry, so that's what gave me the idea.”
It’s an idea that has forever changed David’s life: “I got really, really lucky,” David said.
With some hugs, thank-you's and a quick comparison of their scars, Otero and David, once strangers, became linked for a lifetime.
Both David and Otero have some recovery ahead of them, but Otero is already out of the hospital and will be back to normal in a matter of weeks.
David will be released Sunday, and doctors expect his new kidney to last him a very long time.