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Kidney donor and recipient meet for first time at Upstate University Hospital

Kidney donor and recipient meet for first time at Upstate University Hospital

It is a once-in-a-lifetime meeting and an emotional one that most will never experience.

“Today, it made it real. It made it feel really real. My kidney is in Gary’s abdomen and just that he’s doing well," Jackie Roorda said.

Nine weeks ago, Jackie Roorda of Lafayette did something brave and selfless.

She gave a stranger, Gary Schmidt, a new life by donating one of her kidneys to him.

On Monday at Upstate University Hospital they met for the first time.

“I was so overwhelmed. To see who gave me the gift of another chance at life," Gary Schmidt said.

Gary has been through a rough few years.

He went through a lung transplant.

Shortly after, he was told he needed a kidney transplant to save his life once again.

Gary said because of Jackie's gift, he will get to watch his grandchildren grow up.

Inspired by Jackie's compassion, Gary's wife, Deb, decided to do the same by donating one of her kidneys.

“What Jackie did for my husband. It’s just a "no brainer." I read some place one time to be the change that you want to see in the world and just hope that’s what I’ve done," Deb Schmidt said.

All of them want to get the word out about organ donation.

New York lands low on the list.

Just 28 percent of New Yorkers have registered to donate.

“I hope the awareness is out there and people start realizing I can really make a big difference in someone’s life and check into it,” Roorda said.

A gift cherishes every day enjoying the precious moments that matter the most.

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