Mother of 3 saved by kidney donation from woman she never met

"Come to find out I had the same blood type as her and so, I took action."

ByNICOLE PELLETIERE
July 25, 2017, 3:17 PM

— -- A mother from Massachusetts now has a second chance at life, thanks to another mom from her neighborhood.

Nicole Baltzer, 41, donated her kidney to Kara Yimoyines, also 41, on Feb. 7 after reading her story in a local Massachusetts newspaper. Both women are now sharing their stories.

"I'm beyond words happy," Baltzer of Winchester, Massachusetts, told ABC News today. "I'm happy for her to give her this energy that she needs to be with her kids and participate in their lives more actively. It really felt like the right thing to do every step of the way."

PHOTO: Nicole Baltzer, 41, donated her kidney to Kara Yimoyines, also 41, on Feb. 7 after reading her story in a local, Massachusetts newspaper.
Nicole Baltzer, 41, donated her kidney to Kara Yimoyines, also 41, on Feb. 7 after reading her story in a local, Massachusetts newspaper.
Nicole Baltzer

Kara Yimoyines, mom to Hudson, 11, and 9-year-olds Vivian and Beckett, told ABC News that she was diagnosed with lupus when she was 16 years old.

Overtime, the disease attacked her kidneys, causing her health to deteriorate, she said.

PHOTO: Kara Yimoyines seen in an undated photo with her children, Hudson, 11, Vivian and Beckett, both 9, at a benefit in her honor.
Kara Yimoyines seen in an undated photo with her children, Hudson, 11, Vivian and Beckett, both 9, at a benefit in her honor.
Kara Yimoyines

"At 34 or 35 [years old], my kidneys function dropped significantly to 30 percent," Yimoyines said. "That's when we started looking for a donor."

None of Yimoyines' friends nor family members tested positive as a kidney donor. As a final resort, Yimoyines turned to social media to find a match with a Facebook page titled, A Kidney for Kara.

Yimoyines' search for a kidney made the local news in June 2016. That's when Baltzer read her story.

PHOTO: Kara Yimoyines seen as a patient at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, with her father F. Barry Knotts (left), mom Wendy Horton and step mother, Denise Knotts.
Kara Yimoyines seen as a patient at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, with her father F. Barry Knotts, left, mom Wendy Horton and step mother, Denise Knotts.
Kara Yimoyines

"I [thought], she's a mom like me, living in the same town," Baltzer said. "I have one [child] and I can barely keep up, she has 3. I was thinking, 'God, this is a nasty disease chipping away at her energy,' but knowing there could be some time of solution lying within myself, there was some hope in there. Come to find out I had the same blood type as her and so, I took action."

After talking it over with her husband, Jim Fantini, Baltzer said she was tested to be a donor. In September 2016, she got the call that she was a match for Yimoyines.

PHOTO: Nicole Baltzer seen in an undated family photo with her husband, Jim Fantini and daughter Gabriella Fantini, 8.
Nicole Baltzer seen in an undated family photo with her husband, Jim Fantini and daughter Gabriella Fantini, 8.
Nicole Baltzer

Yimoyines and Baltzer underwent surgery at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. The women did not meet face-to-face until the day after the transplant.

"I think we were both so emotional," Baltzer said. "She was so cute when I walked in and was filling out a card for me. It was really nice to see her and know that it had worked."

Dr. Jeffrey Cooper, chief of transplant surgery at Tufts Medical Center, told ABC News that the operations went smoothly.

"Kara is a young woman with lupus, but otherwise is very healthy," he said. "She's one of these patients whose main issue is kidney disease. Both of them were great surgical candidates and are fully recovered. Both Kara and Nicole have normal kidney function. If you put them together you wouldn't be able to [tell] who donated and who received a kidney."

PHOTO: Kara Yimoyines seen in an undated photo with her children, Hudson, 11, Vivian and Beckett, both 9, at a family reunion.
Kara Yimoyines seen in an undated photo with her children, Hudson, 11, Vivian and Beckett, both 9, at a family reunion.
Shutter Love

Yimoyines said she and Baltzer have become fast friends since their stay in the hospital together.

"Both Nicole and her husband Jim are both so lovely," Yimoyines said, adding how grateful she is for Baltzer's selfless gift. "They're both so caring and obviously their daughter has picked that up from them. It takes an incredibly unique and compassionate person who would do something like this."

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