It was 28-year-old Tiffany’s decision to turn it down so a third victim of renal disease could get a transplant. Acceptance would have dissolved the swap, though Tiffany said she would have donated her kidney to Stella either way. “A lot of people would take that kidney and run,” Veale said. “Tiffany said: `No way. I don’t want Mrs. Williams not to have a kidney.’ This stranger out there who got that kidney is now eating pizza and traveling.” About 5,000 people in Los Angeles and 16,000 statewide are awaiting kidney transplants. In 70 percent of those cases, donors have come forward, but their organs don’t match. UCLA’s kidney transplant team hopes this first local cross-match will ignite more living-donor swaps, Veale said. “We hope this kind of program will develop across the city and eventually the country to share kidneys,” said Dr. Albin Gritsch, the program’s surgical director. Veale said the costs of the four surgeries hadn’t been tabulated, but he noted that with living donors, expenses fall. Kazuyuki Furuya joked with reporters: “This is your tax dollars at its best.” It was tough for the Furuya family of Santa Clarita to watch Kazuyuki’s reliance on grueling dialysis, a three- to four-hour, three-day-a-week treatment to remove waste from the bloodstream when the kidneys won’t. With no donor on the horizon, Tiffany, an engineer, offered hers. “My dad had been waiting for a kidney for almost six years,” she said. “We saw his health decline. It was pretty difficult to watch him.” Stella Williams, 51, was just two months on dialysis after falling ill to kidney disease. “I knew I couldn’t do it the rest of my life,” she said. “I felt like a prisoner. I felt my husband was a prisoner.” Her own daughter’s kidney was a match, but the younger woman became pregnant and could not donate, so both Jason and his brother offered to help their stepmother. “As soon as I heard about it, I just wanted to see what I could do,” Jason said. “I knew she needed it more than I did.” Stella, from Victorville, and Jason, 24, who lives in Upland and works in his father’s construction business, spoke briefly of a rough relationship erased by their new bond. She hugged her stepson and fought back tears speaking of his gift to her that was waylaid to a man he had never met and how she is now living with Tiffany’s organ. “It’s a big thing, it’s a big decision he had to make,” she said. “We’ve had a rough go of it, but we’ve both learned. He’s grown into a wonderful man. He’s someone we can rely on, be proud of. He gave of himself.” The two families, bonded for life by the sacrifices of their children, said they planned to keep in touch. Right now, however, the focus is on healing. “I’m a little sore, but other than that I feel really good,” Tiffany said, explaining the minimally invasive laproscopic surgery for donors. “It’s pretty crazy. They took an organ out of me just a week ago, five days ago.” All but Kazuyuki Furuya are on their feet. Yet he joined his daughter and their new family in looking to a return to normal, saying, “I’d like to get on with the rest of my life.” [email protected] (661) 257-5251160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! When her father needed a kidney transplant, Tiffany Furuya stepped forward and offered one of her own. And Jason Williams, who admitted a rocky relationship with his stepmother, never hesitated when she, too, needed an organ donor. Disappointing news followed, though, when both learned their kidneys weren’t matches. But in a heartwarming twist for two seriously ill patients, UCLA doctors found a surprising cross-match. “By coincidence, Tiffany matched Jason’s mother, and Jason matched Tiffany’s father,” said Dr. Jeffrey Veale, director of the paired kidney donation program at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center. The surgeries were performed Thursday, and all four patients are out of the hospital, facing lives touched by strangers in the first-ever “living donor kidney swap” at UCLA. On Tuesday, amid hugs and some tears, the tale unfolded of strangers whose lives intertwined when Tiffany’s kidney proved a match for Stella Williams and Jason’s for Kazuyuki Furuya. “He’s my son, a son that I never had,” said Kazuyuki, seated in a wheelchair but set for release from the hospital that afternoon. “I’ll take as many dads as I can have,” Jason said. “He’s a good guy.” Adding to the magic of the moment, doctors told of a cadaver kidney that had become available for the elder Furuya, a 61-year-old software engineer, who had made his way to the top of the transplant waiting list.