WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A 23-year-old Placentia man gave the ultimate gift to his dying father on Tuesday.
Justin Hostert arrived at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center before dawn to have his left kidney removed and given to his dad, Craig, who has battled kidney disease for more than a decade.
“Nothing I ever had to think about twice or ever question doing. It’s my dad, who wouldn’t do it?” Justin said.
Craig, who waited for the organ at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, said the moment was “surreal.”
“To realize that this son, this kid has such compassion and love for me that he’s giving me this opportunity to save my life again. A second time,” said Craig.
In 1998, Craig’s wife, Kathleen, donated one of her kidney’s to her beloved husband.
Now, 14 years later, Dr. Ervin Ruzics from St. Joseph Hospital said Craig would likely die if his kidney function wasn’t replaced again.
Before the surgery, Justin and Craig exchanged heartfelt words on a video call.
“I love you,” Justin said.
“I love you, son,” Craig replied.
Transplant surgeons removed Justin’s kidney in less than three hours.
The organ was then placed in ice and sent to St. Joseph, where Kathleen kissed the box on its arrival.
“I can’t believe it’s a part of my son that’s going into my husband. It’s amazing,” Kathleen cried.
Craig’s kidney problems turned his family into advocates for organ donation.
He and his wife founded the Donate Life Run/Walk in Orange County.
“People need to realize they can take such a tragedy and turn it into such life. They don’t just save a life…they save an entire family,” said Craig.