CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx — Victoria Villarreal always had problems with her kidneys, but in 2020, she became extremely sick and was hospitalized.
Doctors were stumped, but a kidney biopsy determined that she had a very rare kidney disease. Villarreal's only recourse: a new kidney.
The Villareals tried everything -- even making magnetic signs to post on their cars in order to raise awareness and encourage people to get tested -- and waited. During that time, Villarreal -- who is a devout Catholic -- even stood as her cousin, Rachel Hare's, godmother when she was baptized.
Little did she know, her match was closer than she realized.
After six months of dialysis, and two weeks after her baptism, Hare called Villarreal to tell her she has been informed she was a match.
"It seemed like a miracle," Villarreal said. "It felt like it really wasn't going to be happening."
Rachel Hare, Victoria's goddaughter, said that she could not believe the news when she received it.
"It was unbelievable," she said. "I was pacing back and forth. I was like 'No way.' It was just unbelievable. I just felt like it was all meant to be."
The Villarreal family said it was hard to adjust to always wearing masks and making sure they were extra-cautious when it came to coming back home from work and school, but it was all worth it.
So what exactly do kidneys do? Kidneys are the two fist-sized organs located just below the rib cage. They look like two giant beans.
A kidney functions as a filter, just like the gasoline filter in your car. Kidneys filter your blood by removing waste and minerals and expelling it from your body in the form of urine.
When kidneys lose their filtering ability, all the fluid and waste they're supposed to remove begins to build up in your body.
That's what leads to kidney diseases. And just like when the filter in your car, when kidneys no longer filter your blood properly, they need to be replaced.