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A NEW LIFE: Valley woman receives life-saving gift

It's a story FOX 10 Phoenix has been following since the beginning: a Valley woman's unusual mission to find a kidney donor. One week ago, Lisa San Miguel underwent the life-saving surgery at the Mayo Clinic.

San Miguel, 39, is recovering at home after the transplant surgery. The whole process has been difficult, but she wants to share her story to help others who may be going through a similar situation, in an effort to show people there is hope.

"I've been on cloud nine," said San Miguel. "It's like a whole new person, literally."

When she was just 20, San Miguel had kidney failure. Her mom donated a kidney to her, and she did great for eleven years - until she got sick and her kidney function started to decline once more.

San Miguel had to undergo dialysis three times a week, for three hours each session. After a year of dialysis, she knew she had to do something, and that's when doctor's urged her to reach out, tell her story, and hopefully find a match.

"I was so terrified to speak up and say, oh, I need a kidney because I didn't want to offend anyone," said San Miguel.

She and her family got creative, and put up decals on the back of all their cars, asking complete strangers for a kidney. San Miguel even started a Facebook page to chronicle her progress.

Then, in April, almost two years from when she started dialysis, San Miguel got a phone call that someone had come forward, and was a perfect match.

Linda Mesquita, a Pre-K teacher from Rancho Santa Fe Elementary School in Litchfield Park saw the story, and wanted to help.

"I thank her from the bottom of my heart," said San Miguel, barely able to hold back her tears. "Truly. No words will ever describe how thankful I am for her. She never gave it a second thought."

San Miguel now lovingly calls Mesquita her "kidney sister". Two women, who were strangers, are now bonded together forever.

More information: https://www.dnaz.org/