Porterville kidney transplant-recipient chain

PORTERVILLE, Calif.

When Samantha Hendon first met Jeremy Cantrell -- he had just started undergoing dialysis treatments three times a week.

Samantha Hendon, kidney transplant donor said, "I've seen him want to go places want to do things and not be able to go want to go."

Jeremy Cantrell, kidney transplant recipient said, "I didn't get exhausted well I didn't think I did, I didn't get exhausted like the other patients I mean I was still working at this time going to work 6 days a week."

Jeremy had just discovered his kidneys were working at less than 5% capability. The wait for a new kidney was anywhere from five to seven years. For Jeremy, that wait extended to 12 years because Jeremy received a heart transplant when he was just 15 years old.

Cantrell said, "All my family got tested and no one either matched or due to other medical reasons they couldn't donate."

Watching her friend suffer through dialysis treatments Samantha knew she had to find a way to help her him. "I am a universal blood type but because he has certain antigens that I don't have in my blood that we don't match."

Hendon did learn that she could be part of a national kidney transplant-recipient chain. Though her kidney couldn't go directly to Jeremy, her donation would not only help someone else in need, but earn Jeremy a donated kidney that was a match.

The kidney transplant chain all started when a Californian decided he would donate to help a complete stranger. The chain made national news -- even featured on World News with Diane Sawyer here on ABC30 Monday night.

Cantrell said, "I didn't realize it was that large but they said at one point it was 14 people and I guess it grew from there."

Jeremy says he's thankful for the stranger who started the chain -- out of the kindness of his heart -- and his friend Samantha, whose own kidney donation helped him get one back in August.

Hendon said, "What kind of person would I be if I had chance to help somebody else and drastically improve their life and I didn't do it."

Samantha says she can see a big improvement in Jeremy's life. Jeremy says he has more energy and the freedom to travel.

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