TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) —They were strangers in the beginning but now two Sarasota natives are connected for life after one of them donated a kidney to the other.
Candie Barrameda and Kathryn Kochevar are both in their early twenties and call themselves “Kidney Sisters.”
Barrameda said she felt like something was off with her health when her vision started blurring late last year so she visited her eye doctor.
“They took my blood pressure and he kind of had a look on his face like, ‘Your blood pressure is through the roof,'” she said.
After seeing different specialists, the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School grad was diagnosed with stage five kidney failure.
“My whole world just turned upside down,” she said.
She needed a kidney transplant and her sister helped search for a donor through social media.
“We had a lot of people message her and my living donor was one of the first people to message my sister,” Barrameda said.
Kathryn Kochevar, a Pine View alum who currently lives in Boston, was a match for Barrameda.
“I knew we were the same blood type, so I was like if I was in her position, I would want somebody to do that for me so it’s worth a shot,” Kochevar said.
In February, Barrameda and Kathryn met at the TGH Transplant Institute to undergo a kidney transplant.
“There were just tears and hugs and I feel like right from the moment we met, there was just so much connection between everybody, right?”
The two young women have set up The Candie and Kat Kidney Foundation dedicated to raising funds and awareness for living donations.