06/04/2010 02:48 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Kidney Donation Forges New Friendship Between Two Sexual Abuse Survivors

As children, Phil Saviano and Susan Pavlak were both abused -- Saviano by a Catholic priest and Pavlak by a nun.

Over the years, Saviano has fought to bring perpetrators of sexual abuse to justice through his organization, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in New England. While he worked as an advocate shining the light on sexual abuse, Saviano also waged a private battle with AIDS. Doctors thought they could save his life -- but he need a kidney transplant.

Although Pavlak had never met Saviano, she knew of his work as an advocate. She volunteered her kidney.

"I'm giving my kidney to a good place," Pavlak, of St. Paul, remembered thinking when she decided she would undergo the tests and surgery. "He's done wonderful things in his life."

Over the weekend, Saviano traveled to Minnesota to visit Pavlak, meet her family, and thank her again for saving his life.

Saviano told KAAL TV,

"I gained a kidney, but I also gained a very important friend. I never saw that coming my way."

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