When Ray Fearing's body didn't take the kidney that was supposed to save his life, he was understandably depressed.
But instead of letting that consume him, the 27-year-old jumped at the opportunity to donate the kidney to someone else who needed it, inadvertently creating medical history, CNN reports.
Fearing, who is from Arlington Heights, Ill., has been chronically ill with a type of kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) since he was 15, Fox News reports.
So when he learned that he would be receiving a new kidney -- donated by his sister, Cera -- he was ecstatic.
Unfortunately, within days of the surgery, Fearing started to feel unwell.
"A week after surgery, we did a biopsy, and that didn’t heal very well," Fearing told Fox News. "I had a lot of internal bleeding, and it was probably the most painful experience of my life."
Doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where Fearing was being treated, told him that they would most likely need to remove the new kidney.
Fearing was then told that instead of just throwing the kidney away -- as has always been done -- he could choose to donate the kidney to another person, since it was Fearing's blood and not the kidney that was the issue at hand.
It was a revolutionary idea.
The decision was a "no-brainer."
"There are thousands of people waiting for organs, I couldn't see myself just discarding one," Fearing told CNN.
His sister, Cera, also agreed.
"I just assumed it's damaged, it's garbage," she told CBS News. "The fact that they were able to give it to someone that somehow was able to benefit from it was great."
Within two weeks, Fearing went under the knife again and his kidney was given to 67-year-old surgeon, Erwin Gomez, CBS News reports.
It is thought to have been the first ever re-transplantation surgery of its kind in the United States.
Gomez has since recovered from the surgery and is thinking of returning to work. Full of gratitude, he told CNN that he owes his life to Fearing and his sister.
"Ray is an incredible person," Dr Lorenzo Gallon, the transplant specialist who performed the surgeries, told Fox News. "This kid is in the storm of a disease and he has the strength to think about someone else. It was really an altruistic gesture."
Fearing meanwhile is back on dialysis to control his FSGS. Once his disease becomes less aggressive, Gollan and Fearing are determined to transplant him again, Fox News reports.
"I’m very hopeful now," Fearing said.