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Valley man saved by a relative and a kidney donation program

Posted at 6:36 PM, Nov 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 21:12:10-05

Everyday across this country, 20 people die waiting for an organ transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing - But a San Tan Valley couple beat those odds and managed to save three lives in the process!

In life, there are few things you can be sure about, but without any hesitation, McKenna Kuntzi can think of something.

"I'd do it again in a heartbeat," she explains.

McKenna's husband Matthew has Type I diabetes and was in kidney failure. Facing years of dialysis, he found a new kidney in just a few months!

McKenna donated one of her kidneys to save her husband's life, and it did, but her organ never even entered his body.

"I was just a cog in a wheel of this circle."

McKenna's kidney wasn't a good match for Matthew. But doctors at Banner University Medical Center alongside the United Network for Organ Sharing knew that this vital organ would be for someone else -- and would connect Matthew with the kidney he so desperately needed.  

Matthew became the first UNOS Kidney Paired Donation at Banner. Sort of like an "organ swap," UNOS found an eligible recipient for McKenna's kidney, which set off a life-saving chain of events.

"My kidney went to a person in New Jersey and that person had a donor and their kidney went to Pennsylvania and that person had a donor and that kidney went to my husband."

Three kidneys, three lives saved, three new beginnings.

"I told her I could live a million years and not be able to thank her enough," explains Matthew.

According to UNOS, 20 people die each day in the U.S., waiting for an organ. Take action and visit to see how you can sign up and help save a life.