These Kind Strangers Started a 6-Way Kidney Transplant Chain

One selfless act of kindness saved the lives of six people in one day

Special Collections: INSPIRE THE GOOD


(Herrndorff /

Paying it forward took on a new meaning when one stranger’s kindness inspired a chain of good deeds that saved six lives. Brendan Flaherty was on the waitlist for a kidney transplant for six years.

The 21-year-old was attached to the dialysis machine when his friend, Philip Cameli offered him his organ, only to later discover that he wasn’t a match. As luck would have it, Kimberly Cooper, a 44-year-old volunteer arrived at the hospital to donate her kidney - and she matched with Flaherty.

Cameli was so grateful and moved by Cooper’s selfless act that he signed up to become a donor. Although Cameli and Cooper didn’t know they’d spark a chain reaction when they decided to make the sacrifice, that’s exactly what they did.

Cameli’s match, Clotilde Ruiz, had a daughter who decided to donate her kidney after learning Cameli saved her mother’s life. The acts of goodwill carried on until six people donated their kidneys at Chicago Northwestern Hospital.

Each stranger - none of whom were a match for their family member/partner/friend - was inspired to return the kindness for someone else. After hearing about the benevolent chain of events, the 12 strangers involved wanted to meet each other face to face and about a week ago, they greeted each other with hugs, tears, and laughter.

By donating her kidney, Copper hopes more people will become organ donors to save over 100,000 people, waiting for new kidneys. Six people received successful kidney transplants at Chicago Northwestern Hospital and it was all thanks to the desire to spread some good in the world.

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Goodnet was initiated by Shari Arison and is operated by The Ted Arison Family Foundation.
Shari Arison is also the initiator of Good Deeds Day.

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