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Life threw a curve ball at Ricardo Arduengo of Hartford. He was facing end-stage kidney failure.

“At this point last year, Dad was really, really sick,” his son, Sebastian, recalled. “He looked like an 80-year-old man. He could barely get out of bed.”

This was a dramatic turn of events for Ricardo, a dentist who spent his life helping others. He was forced to close his dental practice, and retire. His life was quickly slipping away as his body continued to decline. Just getting to medical appointments was a struggle.

“You don’t feel like you are contributing,” Ricardo said. “You feel like a burden. Psychologically, it takes a toll.”

A kidney transplant was needed. Doctors urged him to consider asking family and friends to become living kidney donors, but Ricardo hesitated.

“I was concerned about the impact on their lives,” he said.

As Ricardo’s health declined, Sebastian took matters into his own hands. Unbeknownst to his father, he worked with doctors for months to determine if he was healthy enough to donate his own kidney should he be a match for dad.

Finally, all signs were a go for Sebastian to be his father’s living kidney donor.

“It was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Sebastian said. “I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I could actually do something to help my dad.”

Ricardo, too, was overwhelmed by his son’s selflessness and generosity.

“I think back to the day he was born, about you are going to do everything for him,” Ricardo said. “It doesn’t occur to you that he would do this for you. Give me back my life. That’s something that is indescribable. I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it weren’t for him.”

“He’s my hero.”

Learn more about living organ donation here.

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