Man Donates Kidney To Fellow Corrections Officer

WESTWOOD (CBS) — A Lancaster prison guard and single father of four is expected to be released from the hospital Sunday after undergoing a kidney transplant.

Fellow corrections officer, Luis Hernandez, donated his kidney to Gaston Benjamin – a man he didn’t know all because he didn’t want a fellow father to leave his kids without a dad.

Hernandez was among 40,000 corrections officers who received an email from the department asking for willing donors. He was one of 18 to answer.

“The guy is an angel. I believe there are angels on Earth and he is one of them,” Benjamin said.

“There were some people in the family that did the ‘what ifs… what if you get sick, what if someone in your family gets sick.’ I can’t live my life on ‘what ifs.’ I had to try. If something happens down the line, that’s fate or that’s God’s will,” Hernandez said.

UCLA Medical Center Surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Veale successfully transplanted the kidney last Tuesday. He says, before the donation was made… Benjamin was on a waiting list with 90,000 other people in the United States.

“If there are more altruistic donors come forward, then we could potentially do more and more transplants and who knows, maybe one day we can even cut down the waiting list,” Dr. Veale said.

Recovery has begun and Benjamin is gaining strength quickly now that his new kidney is functioning correctly. Hernandez too – feels better every day.

Both say, their bond is beyond description and they’re grateful for a family that has just doubled in size.

But most of all — Benjamin says he will never be able to repay Hernandez for his improved health and more importantly, for his renewed faith.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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