Woman gets a kidney transplant from someone she never met—next thing she knows, they’re rescuing dogs together

January 8, 2018 9:57 am Last Updated: January 8, 2018 3:13 pm

Susan Reale needed a kidney, and fast.

The San Fransisco woman was diagnosed with kidney disease out of nowhere, and before she knew it, she had Stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease.

The average wait for a kidney could be up to 10 years, and Reale didn’t want to take that chance waiting that long. She even had her own Facebook and Twitter pages that were dedicated to helping her find one.

She told NBC Bay Area how “for two years, I was watching my kidneys fail.” The dialysis she was on only helped so much; all she could do was play the waiting game, and keep spreading the word in hopes that someone with the same blood type as her saw her posts for help.

Months into her dialysis, she got a message from a woman she’d never met before: Michelle Dunn. But they were still connected in a convoluted way.

Reale is the girlfriend of a guy whose best friend’s (from the 1980s) younger brother is dating Dunn.

Sure, the connection is one that needed some researching, but nonetheless, Dunn seemed to want to help out Reale.

Dunn said the first message between them was “something along the lines of like, ‘Hey Sue, you don’t know me, but I’m at the hospital right now getting tested to give you my kidney.” A bit of an awkward start, but a start nonetheless.

Dunn was approved to donate, and on January 12, 2017, the transplant surgery was a success!

Reale was elated to finally have a new kidney, and was thankful for Dunn, who said how “if I was in that situation, I would want someone to do the same for me.”

And Reale didn’t even know how to thank her for it. She had been given a new lease on life, all thanks to this stranger. But this wouldn’t be the last time they crossed paths.

Soon after, Reale, while recovering from the transplant, saw a photo from Oakland Animal Services on Facebook.

It was of two puppies that were littermates: Kuro and Ying Yang.

The dogs were diagnosed with parovirus, a dangerous viral disease. It would cost $2,500 to treat each puppy.

Luckily, a non-profit organization that supports the OAS said that they would pay for the treatment for each one if someone were to give the puppies a home to stay in.

“When I saw the photo of Kuro with his soulful eyes and yearning look, I knew instinctively that we were meant for each other,” Reale told Petco Foundation. She knew he was the one for him, so she adopted him, and renamed him Chipper.

Ying Yang was then shared on Facebook to Reale’s friends, in hopes that someone would adopt him and save his life too. And someone did.

It was the same person that saved Susan Reale’s life, Michelle Dunn.

Reale adopted Kuro and Dunn adopted Ying Yang, renaming him Archie—the two women saved these dog’s lives.

Good Morning!! Waiting for the transplant 🙂

Posted by Desperately Seeking Susan's Kidney on Thursday, January 12, 2017

The final part to weave the two together was how Chipper and Archie were both born on January 12, 2017—the same date as Reale’s transplant surgery.

“Was it destiny? Yes, I believe it was,” she said about her experiences with this woman.

Within two years, Susan Reale went from doing dialysis treatments, to having a new kidney, a new dog, and a new good friend.

What started as a woman looking for a kidney turned into two dogs’ lives being saved, and a bond between two women that’ll last for a long time.