NJ Woman's Kidney Donation Kicks Off Chain Reaction That Saved 4 Lives

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A New Jersey woman is being credited with saving four lives after she donated her organ to a complete stranger.

You wouldn’t guess it by looking at her but Gianna Graw just had major surgery to remove one of her kidneys for someone who needed the life-saving transplant. She says the donation was inspired by her love for her father --- Jersey City officer Willie Graw who died of cancer in 2016.

"I just wanted to do the right thing for someone. I didn’t have to know them," Graw told NBC New York.

She said that after her father died, she was determined to honor her father's life the way he lived it, selflessly.

"We have no pictures together because he was always the one taking the picture," Graw said of her father. "It was my goal in life to make up for what was lost from him being lost."

Graw initially was going to donate her kidney to a Jersey City officer, whom she didn't know personally. However, the officer already had a donor and she still wanted to help. She reached out to Hackensack University Medical Center which helped her start the donation process. 

What Graw chose to do is a rare act. Hospitals around the country see such altruistic donations only about 300 times a year.

"I call donors heroes and this kind of donor I call a superhero," said Dr. David Serur of Hackensack University Medical Center’s Division of Organ Transplantation.

The hospital worked with the National Kidney Registry's sophisticated matching system, pairing donors and recipients for the best outcome.

Graw ended up being matched with a 37-year-old man from California. Her selfless act also kicked off a chain of kidney donations helping a total of four people, and she says this is just the beginning.

"If I can inspire one person who is thinking about donating to do to—that’s really what I get out of this," Graw said.

In a letter to her anonymous kidney recipient, Graw was the one who thanked him.

"It’s a gift to me too. You’ve made my dream come true," she said.

At a time when we could all use a little positivity, Graw is shining her bright light on kindness.

"I feel like a made an impact. I feel like I lived on my dad's legacy. I don’t want to get emotional. I didn’t expect any of this. I did it because it was the right thing to do," she added.

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