02/21/2012 02:03 pm ET Updated Feb 21, 2012

Largest Kidney Donor Chain Saves 30 Lives Across The Country

When Debbie Gianquinto found out that she couldn't donate her kidney to her husband, Dan, she offered up her much-needed organ to a stranger in Florida and Dan turned to a man he had never met in California for help.

The New Jersey couple's acts contributed to the largest kidney donation chain in history, which saved 30 lives, reports. For each patient that needed a transplant, a loved one of that patient agreed to donate a kidney to someone else in need.

"I felt like I helped my husband," Debbie told MyFoxPhilly, "and literally saved his life by donating my kidney to someone else."

The 30 donors and 30 recipients came from 17 different states to help one another. The pay-it-forward strategy was born from Garet Hil, a New York businessman inspired by his daughter's illness. He started the nonprofit National Kidney Registry to conduct and facilitate the matches, The New York Times reports.

“The goal was very simple," Hil said. "Get everybody transplanted in under six months if you had a living donor. One of the things that drove us was the enormity of the problem. The other thing that drove us was that we understood the pain of being in that situation.”

Feeling inspired? Learn how to get involved with the National Kidney Registry, here.

To read more inspiring stories of selfless organ donors, click through our slideshow below:

Inspiring Organ Donor Stories