ATLANTA - Oscar David Serrano is grateful for the total stranger in Minneapolis who gave him a new lease on life.
"Kidney disease changed my life, but it also gave me a whole new perspective on life," Serrano said.
When Good Day Atlanta first featured Serrano in August 2016, he was suffering from Stage 5 kidney disease and was desperate for a new organ from a live donor. He posted fliers on his car, on social media, in restaurants, in coffee shops and even on utility poles in metro Atlanta parks.
In September, he received a call from a wife and mother of five in Minneapolis who saw his story on Facebook and wanted to help.
"Kimberly Menders called me on September 4. The surgery was done December 28 and I am so thankful to live free from dialysis machines. We need more Kims in this world," the 53-year-old Delta flight attendant said at his home in Lilburn.
Serrano spent 12 hours a day hooked up to a dialysis machine in his home. He spent nearly two years looking for a donor and even had a few offers, but they did not qualify for the surgery.
Doctors at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta performed the transplant surgery after ensuring Mrs. Mender's kidney would be a good match and that she was a good candidate for recovery.
Serrano plans to return to his work as an international flight attendant in April. In the meantime, he is also on a mission to help other people in need of a living organ donation.
"While I was waiting for my kidney, I had a lady tell me that she really wanted to donate her kidney but she couldn't because her employer wouldn't give her the time off that she needed for recovery," Serrano said. "This should not be considered an elective. These are life-saving procedures and businesses should do what they can to help organ donors help sick people."
Serrano wants to work with Georgia lawmakers to try to expand the laws that apply to time off for organ donors.
Meantime, he is encouraging people waiting for kidneys and other organs not to give up hope.
"Just keep putting up your signs, get on social media and getting put there. There are people out there who want to help, but they're not necessarily going to come to you. You have to tell them who you are and help them find you. You can't give up," Serrano said with a smile.