By CBSLA Staff

LAGUNA BEACH (CBSLA) — A Laguna Beach family is remembering their selfless hero, Jack Zita, who died from coronavirus complications.

Zita would not only give the clothes off his back to someone in need, but he would also give a kidney too, and that’s exactly what he did.

In 2016, Zita gave his left kidney to his former coworker Bob Dowdell, who needed a donation because one of his kidneys was failing.

“Someone needed it and I had one extra kidney,” Zita said about his decision to be a donor.

When asked by the platform Gene’s Big Dumb Kidneys about the experience, Zita called it “morally and spiritually rewarding” and his “best accomplishment.”

Kidney transplant donor Jack Zita (left), pictured with recipient Bob Dowdell (right) in 2016.

Family said 64-year-old Zita had been in good health but contracted coronavirus after his wife, a nurse, got it.

Zita stayed home to fight the illness but ended up with a severe case of pneumonia that sent him to the hospital and eventually took his life.

“It probably should have been me, just in the sense of fairness. What he’d given to me and to so many people just the inspiration of what he’d done, he’s the last one who should have passed,” Dowdell, the kidney recipient said.

Zita’s daughters say they’re grateful their father was able to live a life with purpose and help someone stay on Earth a little longer.

They now say they, too, want to carry on his legacy by being donors themselves.

The Dowdell and Zita family are connected for life, through a priceless gift and a sudden loss.

“It’s very special to my sister and myself to have Bob in our lives to see and meet his children and grandchildren to know they get extra time with Bob,” said Zita’s daughter Bernadette Guerrero. “It really brings me a lot of joy at a time that’s really painful.”

Dowdell is expected to eulogize Jack Zita at his funeral service next week.

More information about being a kidney donor can be found on the National Kidney Foundation website.

Comments (2)
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