Kidney transplant recipient meets donor before Rangers game

Ralph Gonzales waited 13 years to receive transplant

After 25 years of being diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, Ralph Gonzales finally came face-to-face with the woman who saved his life.

On Saturday, Gonzales met Angelina Pena, who donated her kidney to him in 2012.

"She was a God-send to me," said Gonzales. "I never thought I was going to meet her. This is awesome."

Gonzales was put on dialysis when he was ten. He received his first kidney transplant in 1989, but the organ failed ten years later.

His wife, Elizabeth, tried to donate her kidney to her husband, but the two were not a match.

In 2009, Gonzales was placed in the Kidney Paired Donation Database at the Texas Transplant Institute's Kidney Live Donor Incompatible Program.

The donated kidney he received from Pena was part of a six-way donor exchange. Pena donated her kidney with the hope that it would be a match with her aunt, who was on dialysis.

"I've seen how hard it is, and you're giving someone the chance to break away from [dialysis] and be free from all that," said Pena.

Saddened that she was not a match for her aunt, Pena said she is happy to know that she was able to give Gonzales the gift of life.

"He's not hooked up to machines anymore. He's living life. He's free," said Pena.

Having fully recovered from the transplant surgery, Gonzales was on the field at the Alamodome on Saturday to watch his favorite team, the Texas Rangers, play the San Diego Padres.

He spent several minutes speaking with Pena, thanking her for the sacrifice she made.

"Meeting Nolan Ryan, my donor, all at once, kind of one bam, bam, bam, right after another, it’s just really amazing," Gonzales said. "This day is special and I'm never going to forget it."

For a list of recent stories Cory Smith has done, click here.


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