MIAMI – A man has received a kidney transplant just in time for Christmas.
At 17 years old, James Mykytka learned that he had kidney disease after failing a physical required by the Air Force. He thought he could fight the disease on his own, but began dialysis treatments when he turned 25.
"I felt like Rocky Balboa. Hey, I'm a piece of human steel, nothing can hurt me. I can do this the rest of my life," Mykytka said.
After 10 years of dialysis, Mykytka's health was declining, and he began to lose hope. It wasn't until his father heard about a program that improves the process of kidney transplants that he decided to take a leap of faith. Unfortunately, right before Mykytka decided to put himself on the transplant list, his father passed away.
"When he passed away, I knew that I needed this transplant," Mykytka said. "I knew that I needed to show him, wherever he is, that I'm going to push myself for a better life and to be a better man."
Mykytka received a call from Jackson Memorial Hospital a year later about a prospective kidney donor. On Dec. 21, Dr. Linda Chen successfully performed the surgery on James, and a week later they reunited for the first time.
"You didn't give me a Christmas gift; you gave me the gift of life," Mykytka said. "You gave me a second chance. I can't thank you enough."
Mykytka's body responded well to the kidney transplant and he said he plans to take good care of it for a very long time.