HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - A 30-year friendship is stronger now more than ever after one donated a kidney to the other.

They had locked hands before going into surgery, and a week later, they are still as close as ever.

Lorie Matkick donated her kidney to her friend Allan Gottesman on April 22.

“I cannot believe that Monday Lorie and I were in the OR,” Gottesman said. “Thank you, just doesn’t do it. I’m truly, truly blessed. Thank you.”

Doctors said he was in need of a kidney after chemotherapy weakened his many years ago.

“This was the third transplant center I visited in South Florida, and I knew I found the right center,” said Gottesman.

Doctors at the Memorial Transplant Institute have performed 50 kidney transplants, and the last two happened within 24 hours.

Dr. Juan Arenas, Chief of Memorial Transplant Institute, said, “Getting to 50 in such a short time is a huge milestone, and there are more to come.”

Kidney disease is said to be widespread in South Florida, and doctors want to spread awareness that April is National Donate Life Month.

“It’s the greatest gift that you can share with someone,” one doctor said.

Matkick is a nurse and said she wasn’t scared about the surgery.

“For us, it was just exciting because we could see the end of the road, and the light got brighter and brighter,” said Matkick.

Jermaine Toomer, who was the first pediatric patient at the institute undergoing surgery at the age of 16, also saw it as a positive experience.

“Going through all of this was like a blessing to me,” Toomer said. “It made me really find myself.”

July will mark one year since his transplant, and he said his second chance has inspired him to help others.

“I want to be a paramedic, so I can save lives immediately. Later on, throughout my career, I want to be just like my doctors,” said Toomer.

For the recipients, their faces show their eternal gratitude towards their donors.

“I consider myself a good friend, but I haven’t given a kidney,” Gottesman said. “I received one, so you can imagine I’m a little emotional.”

Doctors said the majority of the 50 transplants have occurred over the past year.

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