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After their dad died in need of a kidney transplant, 2 sisters donate their kidneys to strangers

Posted at 3:02 PM, Jun 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-16 13:08:28-04

After their father died while in need of a kidney transplant, two Illinois sisters each donated their kidneys 24 hours apart to total strangers to make sure two other families didn't have to suffer the way theirs did.

"I hope he would be really proud," Bethany Goralski, 25, of Chicago, told "Good Morning America."

After a long battle with Crohn's disease and kidney failure, their father, Mark Goralski, passed away in September of 2018. Bethany Goralski said she was prepared to donate her kidney to her father -- who had already underwent a transplant in 2011 -- but doctors "told us at the time he wasn't healthy enough for a transplant."

"We just want to make sure two less families had to go through what we went through," Bethany Goralski said.

Her sister, Hannah Goralski, 24, said that she also decided to give the gift of life to a stranger after her father's death.

"You are just in a lull and a loss and you’re thinking about what am I going to do to stop thinking about this person," Hannah Goralski told "GMA."

"My dad was always giving, he was always helping others," she added. "And I thought what a great way to honor him."

"Knowing a lot of people who have been affected by organ transplant, it felt selfish to keep my kidney," she said.

Hannah Goralski said that she called Northwestern Memorial Hospital about a month after her father passed away, and the sisters underwent the surgeries about a day apart in March 2019.

Knowing that she potentially saved a life, "definitely feels amazing," Hannah Goralski said.

"I am definitely in my prayers every night and thinking about the people that received my kidney," she said. "And thinking about the possible chain that this started."

Hannah Goralski added that she believes if her father "was in this position, I think he would have done the exact same thing, he was always helping others."

"I know he would be proud," she said.

Bethany Goralski said she would encourage healthy young people to become organ donors.

"I would tell them to do it, I don’t regret it one bit," she said. "We’re young and healthy, so my recovery was only about 10 days."

Hannah Goralski added that "the age I did it was very ideal."

"I’ve never had any major health issues," she said. "I’ve only ever had my wisdom teeth removed so this was my first surgery ... I felt like I bounced back very quickly."

She acknowledged that while there are "definitely risks for women like preeclampsia ... all women are at risk for that anyway."

"I thought why wait, if someone's dying now and I can help them now, hopefully by then when I'm older I'll look back and say, 'I'm glad I didn’t wait," Hannah Goralski said.