'A second chance at life': Advocate Aurora employee donates kidney to save his coworker's life

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MILWAUKEE, Wis.-- Aurora St. Luke's Hospital passed a milestone when it successfully completed its 700th kidney transplant in August. 

It just so happens that the two people on the surgical tables that day also work for Advocate Aurora.

Tina Bajwa, a member of Advocate Aurora's IT team, was born with polycystic kidney disorder, a disease that slowly killed the function of her kidneys. She learned she would need a transplant in January. 

"(Her doctor) said, 'This is time. You need to find friends and family who can get tested,'" Bajwa recalled.

Bajwa's family and friends did get tested. It was her co-worker and friend, Phil Hudson, that had exactly what she needed.

"He's like, 'Guess what? I'm a perfect match.' I was screaming. He was screaming. We were just so happy," Bajwa said.

Hudson, a finance manager at Advocate Aurora, said he first met Bajwa when their daughters were in preschool together. They became close friends over the years. 

When the time came to give Bajwa one of his kidneys, he never once questioned his willingness to go through with the process that consisted of about 60 tests and a surgical procedure.

"The thought of whether I should do this or not do this never entered my mind," Hudson said.

The pair underwent surgery as friends and co-workers on Aug. 26, becoming the 700th kidney transplant procedure at Aurora St. Luke's. When they woke up, they were family.

"There are no words," Bajwa said. "I'm very, very thankful to the stars, to the gods, to the universe, to everyone. I'm so fortunate. I did get a second chance at life."

There are more than 1,300 people waiting for a kidney in Wisconsin. It's a wait that could take years. Thanks to Hudson, Bajwa only waited eight months. 

"It is one of the most rewarding things I've ever been fortunate enough to do in my life," Hudson said.

Although he still has a couple more weeks of recovery, Hudson said he's feeling great and healed. Despite having only one kidney, he will be able to live a normal life.

Bajwa is about halfway through the recovery period. Once completely healed, she looks forward to spending more time outdoors and on vacation with her family. 

She shared that Hudson's family will always have a seat in their home during the holidays and for celebrations. 

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