CHICAGO -- What started with one unselfish act inspired another, and another, until three lives were changed forever, and four families were connected in a chain of giving.
There were lots of hugs and tears of joy as the donors met their recipients for the first time Wednesday, a special day for a group of kidney recipients who have a new lease on life and the donors who saved them.
It all began when Terri Thede decided to become a living kidney donor.
"I felt like it was a way that I could connect with someone and do something for someone that didn't need anything from me," Thede said.
Thede's kidney went to William Parra, a Vietnam veteran sickened by exposure to Agent Orange. He'd been waiting three weeks for a new kidney.
William's wife Paula decided to donate one of her kidneys as well, giving it to Vitale Stasiuk, who had been waiting almost two years.
"I was just so touched to give a kidney to someone so young who deserved a long life," Paula Parra said.
Also inspired, Vitale's mother Svitlana Gotska gave her kidney to Irene Zapata.
All three transplants took place in one day at Loyola University Medical Center, and now the three recipients recognize August 10 as their second birthdays.
Their living transplant chain meant the recipients didn't have to wait as long for a kidney. If a deceased donor is used, the wait can be five years or longer. Right now there are 100,000 people on the waiting list.