After finding biological family, man donates kidney to great-nephew

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POWNAL, Vt. (NEWS10) — A Vermont man who went searching for his biological family has found so much more—the opportunity to become a hero to a young boy in desperate need of a new kidney. Kayden looks like any other 9-year-old boy. What you don’t see are the countless hospital stays and hours spent on dialysis. Kayden has stage 5 kidney disease and doctors say he won’t survive the waitlist for a new kidney.

“He has a really hard time with that and he cries a lot,” said Kayden’s mom, Vickie Foster.

“It was meant to be, you know. There was no doubt in my mind I was going to do it when I found out about it,” said Dan Hamel.

The two would have never crossed paths if Dan, adopted as a baby, didn’t go searching for his biological family. “As an adopted child, you always want to know where you came from,” he said.

Digging through records at Bennington Town Hall, he uncovered who he was and who his birth mother was. But it was too late.

“She informed me that my mother had passed away three months before but that I had brothers and sisters in town that I had no idea that I had,” he said.

Five siblings and many nephews and nieces, including Vickie, whose son would need a hero. “I pulled over to cry, and then I had texted Dan right away,” said Vickie. “All it said was, ‘this is the best day ever, you’re a perfect match.'”

A date is set and off they go. Kayden to Boston Children’s Hospital and Dan to Brigham and Women’s.

“I asked them, I was like, ‘did you even take a kidney?'” said Dan.

“I thought the surgery didn’t even start yet and all I felt was pain,” said Kayden.

The transplant was a success. Soon after, Kayden is singing and dancing through the discomfort. Dan is recovering, too.

“The first few days are kind of tough, but I would do it all again,” said Dan.

And this heartfelt voicemail from Kayden is why.

“I’m really thankful for you. Because of you giving me my kidney, I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said.

Two days later, Dan gets to see him in person.

“It makes me speechless still. I don’t know how to thank someone enough for doing that,” said Vickie.

Kayden still has a long road ahead. He turned 10 in the hospital but is now home for the holidays, spending time with his great uncle who may have lived a separate life, but instead, will be a part of his forever.

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