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Retired Suffolk Marine gets second chance after niece gives him a kidney

Posted at 7:47 PM, Oct 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-16 19:47:25-04

SUFFOLK, Va. -- A kidney failure diagnosis had one Suffolk Marine preparing for the worse, but thanks to his niece, he now has a second chance at life after she volunteered to give him a kidney.

David Cruz is a 28 year United States Marine Corps veteran. He discovered he had stage 4 kidney failure during a reenlistment physical in February of 2013.

Cruz said the day he got the bad news, he told the doctor he felt fine and he even ran 10 miles trying to get ready for the Tough Mudder.

"'He was like, 'Really? We need to talk.'  I walked to my car and I sat there for about 30 minutes just crying because you don’t think, basically you are going to die if you don`t get a kidney. So, yeah," Cruz told WTKR.

At his recent retirement ceremony, the father of three got an unexpected surprise.

After two years of being kidney transplant list, Cruz's niece, Rebecca, was willing to donate her kidney to her uncle. The little girl, now 34, he used to take to the movies and performed magic tricks with turned out to be the perfect match.

"My sister came down for the ceremony and she saw the difference from what I used to look like healthier, bigger, and what I look like now. She told my niece about it and my niece was like, 'Yeah, I`ll do it.' So she called me and told me, 'I decided to give you my kidney.'"

Cruz said he didn’t know how to react.

"I just started crying and she was like 'Tio' (which is Spanish for uncle), 'You had always been there for me, you had always had my back; it’s my turn to have yours’ and we just hugged. It was phenomenal," said Cruz.

Now Cruz is asking others to help fund his life-saving surgery. Cruz wrote on his GoFundMe page in part:

“Becky is 34 years old, and a mother to three beautiful children. I am honored by the love she has for me and her willingness to give me another opportunity at life. While it is a blessing that our medical portion of this endeavor is covered by Tricare, Becky will be out of work for a few weeks while she recovers.  I feel that it is my responsibility as an uncle, and the recipient of such a generous gift, to do all that is within my power to assist with the miscellaneous expenses that she will incur while in recovery. I desperately need your prayers and financial contributions.”

Cruz's surgery is scheduled for November 12.