LOWELL, MASS. (WHDH) - A Lowell man who wanted to donate one of his kidneys to his ailing girlfriend but was not a match swapped his organ with a stranger who happened to be the perfect match.

“She started getting sick around 17 months ago,” Ryan Adams said of his longtime girlfriend, Karina Fuentes Lucic.

When Lucic’s kidney started failing, Adams offered to donate his. But after basic testing, they learned that his kidney wasn’t a match.

Adams didn’t give up hope, and later discovered that he could still help Lucic get a new kidney, even if it wasn’t his.

“He basically donated his kidney to someone who matches his,” Lucic explained. “Then someone out there had a kidney that matched me. So it’s like a swap.”

After just two weeks on the list waiting to find someone who would be a match for Lucic, the couple got the news they were hoping for.

“We were 16 days on the list and we got a match,” Adams said.

The couple scheduled their surgeries soon after that.

Adams donated his kidney at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Lucic was able to receive her kidney later that night.

The recovery has been difficult but both are healing well and say the surgeries were worth it.

“I have a lot of energy now, I have a lot more motivation than I did before,” Lucic said.

The couple now wants people to know that living organ donation isn’t a scary thing.

“You can still live a normal life. People think if you have one kidney you can’t live off that or do what you normally do,” Lucic said. “As long as you’re healthy, donate.”

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