DAVIS (CBS13) — A donation chain that started with a selfless donor who wanted to give a kidney to anyone who needed it has bonded eight people for life.

The person who received it initially had a donor in mind, but that person was incompatible, so that donor’s kidney went to another patient in need.

Darrel Ellis and Chris Ewing met for the first time to a round of applause on Thursday. Ellis’ life was saved thanks to Ewing, who is what’s called as a non-direct donor.

“I figured I had two kidney, and I only needed one of them,” he said.

His willingness to give up an organ to a stranger was the key to unlocking a series of four kidney donations, including three other patients who were not compatible to their family or friends who wanted to donate, but were compatible to three other donors.

Mike Navarec had been battling kidney failure for the past two years.

“There were times that I’d go to bed at night, not knowing if I was going to wake up the next morning,” he said.

He calls all of the donors godsends.

Ellis says Ewing gave him a gift he can’t repay—immediately after the surgery, he felt better.

“I’ve really had kidney disease my whole life, and never knew what it felt like to feel this good,” he said.


“A little inconvenience to me meant a better life for someone else,” Ewing said.

Nurse Sharon Stencel coordinates the living donor transplant program at UC Davis.

“About eight years ago, if you had a non-compatible donor, the story would have ended right there,” she said.

But she says thanks to the generous donors and her dedicated staff now working on an exchange program, eight life-saving surgeries were able to take place, culminating in today’s happy reunion.

“Good nature of people to help one another,” she said. “I mean that’s what really shines through mostly for me. That’s what gets me right here.”

The surgeries all took palce during two days last month. Stencel says 384 people have been helped through donation chains.

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