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Kidney donor Teresa Dobson breaks down as she meets the man she saved

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An organ donor who gave her kidney to a stranger broke down in tears when she finally met the man whose life she saved.

Teresa Dobson said she had not thought about donating a kidney until she heard about it on the radio and told herself: “I think I could do that for somebody.”

“I have good health and I had two kidneys and I only needed one of them,” the 62-year-old from Kettering in Northamptonshire said.

“So I thought why not give one to somebody else to help give them a better life and maybe save their life.”

The lucky recipient was 70-year-old Joe Salvatore, who she has now finally met after exchanging anonymous letters following the donation five years ago.

Speaking after their emotional first meeting, Mrs Dobson said the pair “got on really well”.

Donor Teresa Dobson meets the recipient of her kidney, Joe Salvatore, for the first time in, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire.
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The pair met five years after the donation

“And we’ve certainly got something in common.”

Mr Salvatore, from New Malden in Surrey, said the transplant has changed his life.

“Everybody says how much better I look. I feel better. I feel fitter,” he said.

Mr Salvatore had been undergoing treatment for renal failure for 15 years, but when doctors discovered both of his kidneys were severely failing, they made it clear he needed an urgent transplant.

His wife and daughter initially offered their kidneys, but they were not suitable.

However, Mr Salvatore’s daughter, Carmel Dalby, did donate her kidney to another stranger as part of a four-way altruistic donor chain which meant her father could receive one.

“Really if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have got a kidney,” he said of his daughter.

“And I’m really grateful for her. She’s a nice, strong girl and I’m really proud of her.”

Mr Salvatore said the transplant means he can continue his martial arts training, his passion that also helps him to keep fit.

“Teresa’s made my life a whole new life again and I’m able to enjoy my life with my family, with my group of friends,” he said.

“What a wonderful person Teresa is, and people like her, who can actually donate to somebody they don’t even know.”

The modest Mrs Dobson played down her selfless act, which was organised through the charity Give a Kidney.

Teresa Dobson (second right) who donated her kidney to Joe Salvatore (centre) meet for the first time along with Joe's wife and daughter, Margaret Salvatore and Carmel Dalby (left), and Teresa's husband Richard Dobson.
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The pair’s families also went along to the meeting

She said it was “just one of those things” she could to help, adding she would rather do that than run a marathon.

“Lots of people do lots of wonderful things for people, like running marathons and raising thousands of pounds,” she said.

“Well I hate running and I’d rather give a kidney away any day.”

Mrs Dobson said that being an organ donor also “gives a lot back” to the giver.

“When I met Joe today, that feeling I had inside, it doesn’t get much better than that,” she said.

At first, the pair exchanged occasional anonymous letters, which were arranged through their hospital transplant units.

Then she suggested they could meet in person – and Mr Salvatore replied to say he would be “very happy” to do so.

Mr Salvatore said he was “very nervous” before the meeting, adding: “Meeting Teresa for the first time today, I promised I’d be strong.

“But of course at the end I wasn’t. I did break down a bit. It was very nice to meet her. A lovely woman.”

Mrs Dobson cried as well, wiping tears from her eyes after she was given flowers and a hug.

“It’s so special to see you,” she said. “You look so well.”

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