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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

Comments (5)
  1. Mary says:

    You are so brave and generous, Luis Hernandez . God bless you and your family.

  2. Jose says:

    Luis is my brother in law and truly proud of him and also my sister for her support.

  3. Jamaican josh says:

    Awesome story! Best wishes to them all and god bless the doctor and his team!

  4. Mary says:

    Crying… what a great story!!

  5. Cosette says:

    Luis, I am fortunate enough to know you as a colleague of the law enforcement community. I, too, think you are an angel sent to save Mr. Benjamin’s life. What you did is an act of total unselfishness that very few people would ever do. God Bless you always – you are truly an amazing human being.

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