Victor Holguin wanted to save one life but he had no idea he would end up saving 16.
Nearly seven years ago, Holguin read a newspaper article about a man who was too nervous to donate a kidney to an ailing family member.
“It stuck in my head. That must be a very tough decision,” said Holguin, a 34-year-old Manhattan real estate broker. “But it never scared me. I thought, ‘I would give it up for a stranger.’ Since then I kept my eye out.”
His family was nervous with the plan, but Holguin made a deal with his partner: If he ran the New York City Marathon, he would donate a kidney.
He ran the marathon in November. By Dec. 17, he was on an operating table, preparing to give his kidney to an ailing man in Texas.
The donation saved the man’s life and started a chain reaction where 16 people received a kidney afterwards. Holguin donated the organ through a kidney exchange program, which distributes the organs on the condition that a family member or friend of the recipient must then give a kidney to someone else in need.
A 15-year-old boy at New York-Presbyterian Hospital received the 16th donation, Holguin shared.
“He didn’t have anyone to give him one,” said Holguin. “I use the analogy that if I saw someone about to be hit by a car, of course I would push them out of way. And this is the same: This is something I know I can do to save people.”
On March 20, just three months after his surgery, Holguin felt well enough to run the New York City half-marathon. This weekend, he will run in the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K to Benefit the National Kidney Foundation. The race will be at 8 a.m. in Central Park on May 14.
Lend a hand!
Upcoming charity events in the city and throughout the New York area:
» Thursday, May 12: At 10 a.m. more than 120 police officers are gathering at Ground Zero for the Blue Valor Run, a 226-mile one-day motorcycle ride from New York to D.C. The ride will recognize police officers who died on 9/11 and all officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. Riders have raised more than $80,000 for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
» Thursday, May 12: Long Island resident Susan Brocato will participate in the 18-mile “Overnight” walk from dusk till dawn on June 4 to raise money for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Tragically, Brocato lost both her grandfather and her father to suicide. To help raise money for her walk, she is holding a fundraiser at Chili’s in Farmingdale this Thursday. If you bring in the flyer, Chili’s will donate 10 percent of every person’s check in your party to Brocato’s walk.
» Saturday, May 21: Watch the inaugural Blondes vs. Brunettes powder-puff flag football game, which raised $93,000 for Alzheimer’s research. The game will be held Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. on Roosevelt Island.
Follow Carly Baldwin on Twitter @CarlyatMetro.