LOS ANGELES (CBS) ̶ A mom and her son will be sharing more than cards and flowers this Mother’s Day; they’re sharing a kidney.

Mike Gaw was one race away from reaching his goal: to run a triathlon on every continent. But when his mother went into end stage kidney disease, he suddenly faced a race against time. His mother needed a new kidney and mike decided to become her donor.

“Didn’t want to put him in danger, he said it wasn’t my choice. He really wanted to save my life,” says Cindy Gaw.

So a year ago mother and son underwent surgery. They affectionately called Mike’s kidneys Hans and Frans, and Hans was successfully removed from Mike and transplanted into Cindy. According to the National Kidney Foundation, Kidneys from family members are more likely to be good matches but there’s no guarantee.

While his mother recovered, Mike resumed his grueling training, wondering how his body would now respond. The general health and long-term survival rate for kidney donors is about the same as non-donors, but for Mike there was a concern.

“Getting dehydrated when you only have one kidney has more serious risk associated with it,” he said.

Dehydration slowed Mike down, but he did finish his final triathlon in Africa. Mike says racing without Hans was worth it because of the life and extra miles it gives his mom.

“After all she had given life to me it’s very rare that a child has a chance to give life back to a parent and I feel blessed to be able to do that.”

(©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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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 (11)
  1. Doing The Right Thing says:

    Now THIS is a story worth sharing! We need more people in the world like Mike Gaw. We all have something to learn from this.

    1. Marilyn Smith says:

      This is a heart-warming success story of real-life heroes.

  2. swhitS says:

    I agree. People should be calling this woman and asking what she did to bring up a son like that!

  3. Donald Hunt says:


  4. Just a Thought says:

    What a beautiful story. We need more selfless acts in this world =)

  5. metrogirl says:

    Giving life is such a selfless thing to do. This story brought tears to my eyes and it’s a blessing to know such beautiful people exist. Happy Mother’s Day Mrs. Gaw. 🙂

  6. Tracey Locher says:

    As a childhood friend of Mike and the Gaw Family, I can tell you that they are all AMAZING people! I remember when this medical journey started and it really didn’t surprise me that Mike would do this for his mom. Here’s to decades of Happy Mother’s Days to you, Cindy! And, Mike… one more Ironman until you have hit all 7 continents, right? So… when are you taking “Franz” to Greenland…? 🙂

    1. Tracey Donnelly Locher says:

      Oops… I mean Antartica… ha, ha, ha!!! 🙂

  7. Ed Walker says:

    Best wishes to Cindy and Mike and the whole Gaw clan. We’re glad you all are doing great.

  8. Celeste says:

    I haven’t known the Gaws for as long as Tracey, but Mike was my mentor early on for a Team in Training event and what he did was no surprise to me either. They are a loving, caring family. So refreshing in this world of dysfunctional ones!

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