LOMA LINDA, CA -- When a local mom needed a kidney transplant, her Army veteran son did not hesitate to donate and save her life.
There are over 100,000 patients every year waiting for kidney transplants, and less than 20 percent of them will actually get a donor.
Living with kidney disease for more than eight years, Lucia Zubia was afraid dying while waiting for a donor would be her fate.
"It's sad when you see your friends that you make at dialysis pass away, you know?" she said.
Lucia didn't have to wait very long. Her son, Emanuel, who had already served in Afghanistan, didn't hesitate to do something heroic again.
"For my mom, I'd do anything. I'd die for her," he said.
For Lucia, it was a tough decision
"I was hoping that we were not a much, you know, because as a mother you don't want your son to go through this," Lucia said.
For Emanuel it was the only decision.
"If someone was going to do it, I'd rather it be me because it's my mom," he said.
Emanuel told his mother in a special way that he was a match.
"He had a banner that said 'three wishes,' and he put an X on the 'donor' that we were a match," Lucia said. "So that's how he surprised me."
Emanuel and Lucia both went into surgery on Monday. The transplant was a success, and now Lucia can look forward to a much healthier future.
"I'm so eternally grateful for him making this decision because he saved my life, and not only did he save my life, but he also helped somebody else go up higher on the kidney list," she said.
More than 120,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for a lifesaving donor. Doctors say anyone can be a donor, regardless of age or medical history.