On Aug. 7, Sgt. Jacob Chadwick, 23, of San Marcos, Calif., underwent a four-and-a-half hour kidney transplant at UC San Diego Medical Center that saved his life. His kidney donor was a fellow marine, 24-year-old Lt. Patrick Wayland from Midland, Texas, who went into cardiac arrest on Aug. 1 at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida.
Now, both the Wayland and the Chadwick families have told ABCNews.com that they would like to meet, when the Waylands have moved pass the aftershocks of grief and Chadwick has healed from his surgery.
"What they did was pretty great," Chadwick said. "A piece of their son is keeping me alive. Eventually, I think they should [get to know the person] who their son's kidney went to."
Carole Wayland, Patrick's mother, said, "I think we absolutely would like to make that happen. I feel [Jacob] carries a piece of Patrick on with him, and so it's almost like he's a living legacy of Patrick."
"I plan on meeting [Jacob] and becoming his lifetime friend," said Patrick's father, David Wayland. "It's like our story would have had a sad ending. But now, it really doesn't."
Race to Find a Matching Donor
Currently, nearly 90,000 Americans are on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. In 2010, there were 16,898 kidney donations in the U.S.
As of December 2010, 36 U.S. servicemembers had donated 141 organs to gravely ill patients in the previous five years, according to an article in the military publication "Stars and Stripes."
Since then, Chadwick endured dialysis treatments for three and a half hours each day for rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis, a condition that caused his immune system to attack his kidneys, slowly scarring them beyond repair.
His wife, Victoria, 28, nursed their first-born, Ella Marie, and worried about him.
"It's pretty wearing on you, physically and mentally, sitting in the chair ... getting that treatment so that you can get by every day," said Victoria about her husband's treatment. "He would come home really tired and not feeling too well."
The Chadwicks were desperately searching for a kidney donor with Type O blood to match Jacob's. They were informed by UC San Diego Medical Center that the average wait time in San Diego County to get a cadaver kidney that would match his blood type was four to five years.
In an effort to find an immediate donor, the couple contacted Operation Gratitude. Victoria had volunteered with the group during her husband's deployment in Iraq the previous year. The organization promptly sent out a newsletter about Chadwick's need, and word quickly spread via Facebook and Twitter.
Finding A Kidney Recipient: 'Marine Needs Transplant'
On Aug. 5, Lt. Jeffrey Moore, a Navy flight surgeon at the Naval Aviation School's command, acted as a witness when Carole Wayland signed her son's organ donor forms at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. Lt. Moore said that Wayland expressed in passing that she would like one of her son's organs to be donated to a fellow Marine.
He said, "That's kind of a mantra of the Marine Corps: taking care of your own."
Late that evening, Lt. Moore entered three words into a Google search: Marine needs transplant. Operation Gratitude's website popped up.
Lt. Moore helped the Wayland family donate their son's organs to five recipients, all of whom remain anonymous except for the receiver of Wayland's kidney: Jacob Chadwick.
"My job is to take care of aviators and being that [Patrick] was at Sacred Heart Hospital where I couldn't really do anything, I felt like this is my way of helping the family, giving them a happy ending to a tragic event," Lt. Moore said.