Heroic People Who Donated Organs To Complete Strangers

Liza Porat In 2015, Marianna Ilyasov received a diagnosis that changed her life: kidney failure. Although she felt fine for several years, her condition took a… Austin Alan - May 10, 2023

There is beauty in selflessness, and nothing embodies that more than when someone chooses to donate an organ to a complete stranger. These heroic individuals have made the conscious decision to help save a life, often risking their own health in the process. They are driven by an unwavering desire to make a difference and give back to society. The act of donating an organ is not just about giving someone a second chance at life, it’s about showing compassion, empathy, and kindness to someone in need. It’s about putting the needs of others before your own, and in doing so, creating a ripple effect of love and positivity that spreads far beyond the individual donation. The stories of those who have selflessly donated their organs to strangers are heartwarming and invoke a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the innate goodness of humanity.

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People Who Donate Organs to Strangers Have This Thing In Common

According to CBS News, researchers have discovered that individuals who selflessly donate their organs to strangers possess a distinctive brain characteristic. This study, conducted in Philadelphia, highlights the brain’s anterior insula as the key region involved in altruistic behavior. The research involved comparing brain scans of altruistic organ donors with those of non-donors, revealing a heightened connectivity and activity in the anterior insula of donors. These findings contribute to our understanding of the neurological basis of selfless acts, shedding light on the unique brain feature associated with individuals who make remarkable organ donations to strangers.


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Chris Dempsey

Heather Krueger had stage four liver cancer in 2014. She had only a few months to live and needed a liver transplant to survive. Her family and friends started a campaign to find a liver donor, but no one was a match. Chris Dempsey, a complete stranger, heard about Heather’s plight and decided to get tested to see if he was a match. He was and offered to donate a portion of his liver to Heather. The surgery was successful, and Heather made a full recovery. The two strangers became close friends, bonded by their shared experiences.

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Lori Intericchio

Tinder is a marvel of modern dating, but it is also used to connect people with plights we don’t hear. Lori Interlicchio was the girlfriend of Alana Duran when Alana needed a kidney transplant. Alana’s father had donated his kidney to her years earlier, but it was no longer functioning properly. Lori wanted to help Alana, so she got tested to see if she was a match. The tests revealed that Lori was a perfect match, and she decided to donate her kidney to Alana. The surgery was a success, and Alana made a full recovery. The two girlfriends fell even more in love, and their relationship grew stronger. Lori’s decision to donate her kidney to Alana is a testament to the power of love and the lengths that people will go to help those they care about.

Credit: People

Hallie Twomey

A 20-year old man, CJ, committed suicide, and that event forever changed Hallie Twomey’s life. Hallie was CJ’s mother. And she made a decision that would honor her son’s legacy. She donated his organs. Though saving many people’s lives, she felt there was more to do. She chose to become a live kidney donor in honor of her son. She said, “Even if my son hadn’t taken his life, I still would have done this.” The process was not easy, but her determination and compassion made it possible. She hopes that her story will inspire others to become organ donors and save the lives of complete strangers. Hallie’s act of kindness is a testament to the beauty of the human spirit and the power of love, despite the tragedy that inspired the act.

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Cameron Lyle

Bringing his budding career to a screeching halt, Cameron Lyle was a college athlete who donated bone marrow to a complete stranger. He was a perfect match for a man with leukemia, and without the transplant, the man only had six months to live. Despite knowing that he would miss his final track and field season, Cameron chose to undergo the procedure and donate his bone marrow. He said that he would rather help save someone’s life than seek glory in his sport. The transplant was a success, and the man is now healthy and thriving. Cameron’s selfless act of donating bone marrow to a complete stranger shows how a small sacrifice can make a huge impact on someone else’s life.

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Liza Porat

In 2015, Marianna Ilyasov received a diagnosis that changed her life: kidney failure. Although she felt fine for several years, her condition took a turn for the worse in 2021, resulting in dialysis. Feeling helpless, she made a post on KidneyMitzvah, hoping to find an organ donor with type A blood. That’s when Liza Porat stepped in and became a live donor, offering Marianna a second chance at life. Their friendship blossomed after the procedure, and they remain healthy to this day. It’s a reminder that anyone has the power to save a life, and no act is more rewarding than helping your fellow person.

Credit: American Transplant Foundation

Kaye Basedow

Social media has brought our world closer than ever before. Kaye Basedow was a man who donated his kidney to a complete stranger, Kelsey Crider. Kaye had seen a social media post from Kelsey’s mother, who was asking for a kidney donor for her daughter. After learning more about Kelsey’s condition and the need for a kidney donor, Kaye decided to undergo the transplant surgery and donate his kidney to Kelsey. The surgery was a success, and Kelsey’s health significantly improved after the surgery. Kaye said that he was inspired to donate his kidney because he wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. His selfless act has not only saved a life but has also raised awareness about organ donation and encouraged others to consider becoming organ donors.

Credit: Bryan Herrington

Bryan Herrington

Bryan Herrington was a man who donated his organs after he passed away. His decision to become an organ donor ended up saving the life of Jeff Granger, who received Bryan’s pancreas and kidney. Jeff had been on the waiting list for a pancreas and kidney for several years and was in dire need of a transplant. Bryan’s donation allowed Jeff to receive a life-saving transplant and drastically improved his health. Jeff was grateful for Bryan’s selfless act and said that he would not be alive today if it weren’t for his donation. Bryan’s legacy lives on through his organ donation, and his selfless act has inspired others to consider becoming organ donors themselves.

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Dominique Overturf

Dominique Overturf is a true hero who saved the life of Juan Hernandez. She selflessly donated one of her kidneys to him, which allowed him to overcome his long battle with kidney disease. Dominique and Juan are both from Santa Rosa, California, and they were strangers before their transplant journey. But Dominique felt called to donate her kidney after seeing a post from Juan’s wife on Facebook about their struggle. After a successful transplant surgery at Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Juan has a new lease on life. Dominique’s generosity and bravery have not only saved Juan’s life but have also inspired others to consider organ donation.

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Bruce Becke

Mike Drisgill is a hero who saved the life of a stranger. Bruce Becke was suffering from leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, he could not find a matching donor among his family members. That’s where Mike Drisgill came in. He had registered as a bone marrow donor years earlier and was found to be a match for Bruce. Without hesitation, Mike underwent a procedure to donate his bone marrow to Bruce, who was in desperate need of it. Thanks to Mike’s selflessness and generosity, Bruce was able to receive the transplant he needed to survive. Their story is a testament to the power of organ donation and the impact it can have on someone’s life.

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Emily Nowak

Emily Nowak, a resident of Wausau, Wisconsin donated her kidney to a stranger, Lenny Zwieg, in 2018. She saw a post on Facebook from a woman she was friends with that Zwieg needed a kidney, and Emily immediately knew she wanted to help. She underwent extensive testing and learned that she was a match for Lenny. Emily didn’t hesitate to donate her kidney to Lenny, even though they had never met before. The transplant was successful, and Lenny’s health drastically improved. Emily has said that helping a total stranger was on her bucket list. Becoming friends shortly after the procedure, they stayed in touch through the recovery process.

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Lisa Sorlie

Lisa Sorlie, a resident of Elgin, Illinois, donated a kidney to save the life of Booker T. Williams, a stranger from South Carolina. The two were matched through a kidney-paired donation program. Sorlie’s donation was motivated by her desire to help others and provide good health to those less fortunate. The surgery was successful, and both Sorlie and Williams recovered well. Sorlie’s selfless act of kindness not only saved the life of a complete stranger but also inspired others to consider becoming living donors. She hopes that her story will encourage more people to donate their organs and make a positive impact on the lives of those in need.

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Amy Throckmorton

Amy Throckmorton donated an egg 18 years ago to help a couple conceive a child. She never expected to meet the child that was born from her donation. However, fate had other plans. Elizabeth Gaba was conceived from Amy’s egg and, as luck would have it, they met years later. The pair formed an instant bond, and Amy felt an immediate connection with the child she helped bring into the world. Amy was overjoyed to see how happy Elizabeth was and was proud to have played a small, or rather large, part in her life. This experience has given Amy a renewed sense of purpose and has taught her the true power of donation.

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Francia Raisa

Francia Raisa, a famous American actress, and model, donated her kidney to her best friend Selena Gomez, a popular singer, and actress, in 2017. Selena had been suffering from lupus, an autoimmune disease that affected her kidneys. When Selena’s kidneys failed, she needed a transplant to survive. That’s when Francia stepped in to offer her kidney as a perfect match. Francia underwent surgery to donate her kidney, which proved to be successful. After the transplant, both friends took some time off to recover, and Francia was commended for her selflessness and bravery. Though in recent news there has been difficulty between the two, a selfless act on Raisa’s part has improved the quality of life Gomez has been able to lead.

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Chris Perez and Steve Sanders

Steve Sanders created a website that connected him to Chris Perez, ultimately saving his life. Sanders suffered from uromodulin kidney disease, which left him in need of a kidney transplant or dialysis. Luckily, Perez turned out to be a perfect match and stepped up to help. As the director of volunteer services at Atrium Health Carolina Medical Center, Perez was able to facilitate the life-saving procedure. His selflessness and willingness to donate one of his kidneys to a complete stranger serve as a powerful example to us all. Through this life-changing experience, Sanders and Perez formed a bond that will last a lifetime.


Curtis Hendrix

Curtis Hendrix decided to donate his left kidney to a complete stranger, a mother of five, in need of a transplant. The decision came after he heard about her story and how her condition was worsening by the day. Hendrix was a perfect match for the woman, and without hesitation, he went ahead with the procedure. The surgery was a success, and the mother of five is now on the road to recovery, thanks to Hendrix’s selfless act of kindness. Hendrix is now advocating for more people to consider organ donation and how it can help save lives in need. He is a true hero and a source of inspiration for us all.

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Maureen Harris

Maureen Harris, a 70-year-old woman, selflessly donated her kidney to save the life of a complete stranger. Harris, who had never met the recipient, underwent the surgery at the Penn Transplant Institute in Philadelphia. She decided to donate her kidney after learning about the need for organ donors on the news. The recipient, who wished to remain anonymous, had been on the transplant waiting list for years and was grateful for the selfless act. Harris encourages others to consider organ donation, regardless of age or gender, as it has the power to save lives. Her generosity and kindness have inspired many and set an example of how a single act of kindness can make a significant impact on someone’s life.

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Leigh Searcy

Leigh Searcy, a TV reporter who worked in Lexington, Kentucky was inspired to donate her kidney after interviewing a kidney donor in a news segment. She wanted to make a difference in someone’s life and decided to donate her kidney to a stranger. Searcy’s donation sparked a chain of kidney donations that helped a total of four people. The surgery was successful, and Searcy and the recipient, Donna, formed a close bond after the procedure. They stay in touch and often go out to lunch together. Searcy encourages others to consider becoming a living donor, saying that the experience has been one of the most fulfilling things she has ever done. She believes that even the smallest act of kindness can have a significant impact on someone’s life.

Credit: Cedars-Sinai

Jessica Morris

Jessica Morris went above and beyond to donate her kidney to a complete stranger. Motivated by her mother’s battle with kidney disease, Morris underwent a rigorous evaluation process to ensure her compatibility as a donor. This story emphasizes the rarity of such selfless acts, as most kidney donations occur within close-knit communities. By choosing to save the life of someone she had never met, Jessica exemplifies the extraordinary compassion and empathy that can drive individuals to make a profound impact on the lives of others. Her story serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of organ donation and the potential for acts of kindness to transcend personal boundaries and make a difference in the world.

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Tracey Jolliffe

Tracey Jolliffe, an exceptional individual and hero displayed incredible selflessness by donating a kidney, 16 eggs, and 80 pints of blood. Now, she embraces a new mission: to give away a portion of her liver. Tracey’s unwavering dedication to helping others is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Her story showcases the boundless capacity for compassion within the human spirit and exemplifies the transformative power of organ donation. Through her remarkable acts of kindness and generosity, Tracey reminds us of the profound impact that one person can have on the lives of many.