Kidney donation: 2 Illinois sisters honor late father with surgeries 24 hours apart

Two sisters who donated their kidneys in honor of their late dad are now remembering him one year after his death. 

Hannah and Bethany Goralski lost their father, Mark Goralski, on Sept. 23, 2018, after he died from complications related to Crohn's disease. The 57-year-old needed a kidney transplant, but doctors said he wasn't healthy enough to undergo the operation.

Bethany was ready to give one of her own kidneys to help her dad — who had already received a successful transplant in 2011 when his son, Josh, donated one of his — but the doctors wouldn't allow it, given Mark's condition. 

So, after their father died, they decided to use their tragic experience for good. Both Bethany and Hannah donated their kidneys earlier this year.

"We just want to make sure two less families had to go through what we went through," Bethany told "Good Morning America."

The sisters, who both live in Chicago, had the operations less than 24 hours apart. It was an act of generosity they said their dad would be proud of.

"My dad was always giving, he was always helping others," Hannah told "Good Morning America." "And I thought, what a great way to honor him."

Hannah told "Good Morning America" she called Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital about the donation within a month of her father's death. She said she thought if he was in her position, he'd do the same thing.

Both sisters said they hope their story causes more people to donate organs — especially younger people. Around 20 people die every day while awaiting new organs, according to the American Transplant Foundation

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

The Goralski's did more than just encourage people though. The sisters directly inspired at least a handful of people to donate their kidneys this summer, many of whom got to meet their recipients at an event in July.

"It’s a gift," Julia Bauchwitz, who received one of the kidneys spawned by the Goralski's donation movement, told the Chicago Tribune. "I don't know. It's unbelievable. I just — I hope they know how special they are."

For the sisters, it meant a lot to know they've potentially saved lives because of their dad.

"I felt bad because I couldn't save my dad, but I felt like somebody still deserves this kidney," Bethany told the Chicago Tribune.

"I am definitely in my prayers every night and thinking about the people that received my kidney," Hannah told "Good Morning America." "And thinking about the possible chain that this started."

The Goralskis are still remembering their father's legacy too. On the one-year anniversary of Mark's death, Hannah posted a photo of her and her dad to Facebook.

"My Daddy for a short time here on earth and forever my angel in the outfield," her post read. "It was the pleasure of my life being your daughter these past 23 years. Rest In Peace and save a place for me."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.