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South Bay mother asking for the 'Gift of Life' this holiday season

Michelle Leyva is hoping the power of TV news will spark a 'Living Donor' exchange.

SAN DIEGO — Television news provides more than just today's headlines, sometimes our strongest contribution is connecting people. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Skyline where a mother is asking for help. 46-year-old Michelle Leyva needs a kidney transplant. "I was diagnosed with Lupus is 2001," said Michelle. "I didn't realize how sick I was."

She's been on dialysis since August 2019. This is actually her second time on dialysis as well as the second time she is in need of a kidney transplant. Michelle's husband of 25 years, Andy, was hopeful that he was her match, but they recently found out that he was not.

Credit: Michelle Leyva

In 2011, after spending years on dialysis, Michelle received the miracle of a transplant. "I'm thinking I am going to live a long healthy, happy life and not have any issues," said Michelle.  Just when the loving wife and busy mother caught her breath, she was diagnosed with cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy sent her into kidney failure. "I was devastated, I didn't know what to think. I was like what else can happen to me," said Michelle. The mother of two slipped into a coma and was given days to live. "I woke up, I woke up from that coma that they did not expect me to wake up from," said Michelle.

Credit: Michelle Leyva

"She is the heart that beats in my chest, 100%," said Andy who would love to give Michelle a kidney, but he's not a match for her. So, the couple called us to help spread the word about finding a living donor. CBS 8 is owned by TEGNA which owns more than 80 television stations. We are hoping that this story is shared across America and there is one family with a loved one who needs a kidney and maybe we can save two lives.

Credit: Michelle Leyva

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Andy lost 100 pounds and got off diabetes medicine, so that he can participate in a kidney exchange. "He is my best friend in the whole world and just knowing that he is willing to do this to give a piece of himself to someone else just I can have a better life there are just no words," said Michelle. This holiday season, Michelle is hoping for a miracle. "The doctors said we have no idea how you are here standing here," said Michelle. You may just have the only gift she needs. "That is why I wanted to reach out to you and share my story. There could be someone else in my same position who is just waiting and hoping," said Michelle.

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By sharing Michelle's story to your group of family and friends, you will help to increase the number of people who may consider kidney donation. You can also support Michelle and other patients in need of a transplant by being screened to become a kidney donor with the NKR. The process is easy to complete and potential donors have access to the NKR's nationwide donor support network. Click here for more information.

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