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Kidney Chain across the Southeast helping save lives

A mother and daughter from Shalimar are part of a lifesaving chain that stretches across the Southeast. People who can't help their loved ones, are donating kidneys to save other people's lives.

Laura Hussey "From here in Shalimar Florida, to a hospital in Birmingham Alabama, to saving lives across the Southeast.....you never know the difference one selfless decision could make"

The University of Alabama at Birmingham describes its kidney chain as a combination of high-tech medicine and human kindness.

Lornette Stewart/Shalimar "She was very humble about it, she didn't want anyone to know. She really didn't want any credit, nothing"

Lornette Stewart is talking about the woman who saved her life. Paula Kok didn't know anyone who needed a kidney, but told Stewart she  felt led to contact uab and help someone.

Lornette "The chain started with her, the person who didn't need anything, who was just fine"

At first, Stewart's donor was going to be her daughter Jovi.

Jovi Williams "It wouldn't have mattered if they had to cut half of the heart, you know, it was just for my mom I would have did anything"   

But after Stewart got a transfusion, Jovi was no longer a match. That's where the chain comes in....UAB takes donor pairs who aren't compatible, and puts them in a database so willing donors can be matched with other recipients. Lornette could could stay in the program with another donor, if Jovi was willing to give to a stranger.

Jovi "It was much easier to give to her than to have to give to someone else that you don't know, a stranger. So to even get beyond myself and say you know, it doesnt matter if it's my mother, it doesn't matter if it's a stranger, at the end of the day, I'm still helping someone"

Twenty-one people have now received transplants in the kidney chain, with six more scheduled next week. Lornette and Jovi share the same deep faith that led Paula Kok to give. They didn't plan to make history, but do believe they've been part of a miracle.

Laura Hussey "You can find out more about the UAB Kidney Chain tonight on Nightline, right here on Channel 3."