"Really up until 10 years ago, every person who was a living donor was family member. It's really only been in the last 10 years that we've been considering people with a passing relationship or a distant relationship," said Newman. "But there are still some transplant centers that are more conservative that are doing more family members, and close relatives. They don't have as much experience dealing with these kinds of cases."
But such cases are growing. While virtually unheard of 10 years ago, UNOS reports that 108 people donated a kidney to a stranger last year, 1,300 people donated a kidney to a chosen person who wasn't a family member and 249 people donated kidneys in a paired exchange in 2008.
This year, Hambright may join that figure.
Like many amazing transplant stories, 7-year-old Heather McNamara was told numerous times that there was no hope.
McNamara was suffering from a cancerous tumor in her abdomen so large that it irrevocably damaged her pancreas, stomach and spleen.
At first doctors said the young girl's tumor was inoperable. But Heather's mother, Tina McNamara, said on "Good Morning America" that the family went from doctor to doctor looking for answers.
"We weren't giving up," she said. "We couldn't imagine turning around and saying we're out of options."
The McNamara family finally found a doctor who could help. This spring, McNamara survived groundbreaking surgery in which six organs were removed from her body to get to the cancerous tumor.
Then, during a 23-hour operation, seven doctors painstakingly returned the undamaged organs. McNamara was left without a stomach but doctors created a pouch out of her intestine to help her digest food.
Dr. Tomokai Kato led the surgery, which is said to be the first of its kind performed on a child. Kato performed a similar surgery on a Florida woman last year, led the team of seven surgeons through Heather's surgery. She is believed to be the first child to undergo this type of surgery.
While the surgery saved her life, the surgery left McNamara a diabetic and on a restricted diet normally given to gastric bypass patients.
Jonann Brady contributed to this report.
ABC News had its own amazing transplant story in December 2008. ABC's "20/20" correspondent Bob Brown told the story of Joan LeFosse and Ani Mozian-Whitney, ABC colleagues whose work relationship turned into a lifesaving friendship:
Ani first experienced chronic kidney failure in her 20s -- doctors don't know why -- and she received a kidney transplant at the age of 25.
When she married Wil Whitney in her mid-30s, one of their goals was to have a baby, despite the additional strain it might put on Ani's transplanted kidney. It was a risk her doctors agreed to and Joan understood how much Ani had invested emotionally in the prospect.
"It's probably the greatest thing she's ever wanted in her life," Joan said.