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'It’s just a miracle': Saskatoon woman finds kidney donor after advertising search on her car

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After months of driving around the city with an advertisement for a kidney donor on her bright red car, Debbie Onishenko will soon be able to rip off the decals as her search has ended.

Last summer CTV News Saskatoon published a story about Onishenko’s search, which caught the attention of Brent Kruger. He realized he had the same blood type as Onishenko and knew he had to reach out.

“It was clear to me that I had to do it. I would be very upset with myself if I didn’t at least try because if there was a chance that I was a match and I didn’t do it, I don’t think I could live with myself,” Kruger told CTV News.

Between August and January, Kruger says he had at least 40 vials of blood taken for tests, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds and more to see if he was healthy enough to donate a kidney.

He had only spoken to Onishenko over the phone until they ran into each other at St. Paul’s Hospital while they were doing some testing.

Saskatoon's Debbie Onishenko is getting creative in her search for a transplant donor. (Keenan Sorokan/CTV News)

“First thing we did was grab each other and hug. We stopped crying and it was amazing to actually meet him in person after just having talked over the phone or through messenger,” Onishenko said.

Kruger says he got the official call last week, receiving the good news that he was a match and a potential kidney donor for Onishenko.

“It’s just a miracle, you think with all the people that live in Saskatoon and there were only a couple few people that called about it. To find out that I actually had a match is unbelievable,” Onishenko said.

While surgery hasn’t been scheduled yet, the pair and their families have gotten to know each other and are well on their way to a lifelong friendship. Kruger says his wife and Onishenko share the same love for Harry Potter.

The pair hopes their story inspires other people to donate whatever they can to a person in need such as blood, plasma and bone marrow.

Onishenko says the experience has changed both their lives for the better.

“I didn’t expect it to have the impact on me that it did. I just went in it for Debbie,” said Kruger.

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